Back to Godhead Magazine

Volume 31, Number 02, 1997


From the Editor
How to Approach a Spritiual Master
Remembering Srila Prabhupada
Lessons from the Road
Lord Krsna's Cuisine
Schooling Krsna's Children
The Land, the Cows, and Krsna
India's Heritage
Book Distribution
Bhakti-yoga at Home
With Krsna Among the Arabs
Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out
Spiritual Places
Living Off the Land in Krsna Consciousness
The City of Nine Gates
Mahabharata—The History of Greater India
Every Town & Village
Calendar Close-up
Vedic Thoughts

© 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

Statement of Purposes

1. To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
2. To expose the faults of materialism.
3. To offer guidance in the Vedic techniques of spiritual life.
4. To preserve and spread the Vedic culture.
5. To celebrate the chanting of the holy names of God as taught by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
6. To help every living being remember and serve Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead.

From the Editor

The Taj Mahal: Enduring Monument to Love

IN MORE THAN twenty-five years of coming to India, I'd never seen the Taj Mahal—never had a desire to or a reason to. But when my mother came on her first-ever trip to India, how could she go back home to America and say she hadn't seen the Taj Mahal?

So I brought her.

And I confess to being pleased with her when she found the Taj "rather a disappointment." At first view, it was "breathtaking," she said. But the closer you get, the less impressive it looks. Though it majestically fills a picture postcard, really the place is fairly small. Inside, the marble work is neat—the delicately carved screens, the intricately inlaid flowers—but what it comes down to, played out with splendid precision, are the same Mogul motifs repeating themselves throughout the chamber again and again. And once you've seen it you've seen it.

What then to say of this "enduring monument to love"?

It was perfect. Love had found the perfect symbol: perfectly hype, perfectly disappointing.

That's love for you. The whole world is blowing trumpets about it. Poets are praising it, minstrels singing of it, psychologists getting deep about it, boys and girls dreaming of it. Billboards selling it, industries built on it, kings and queens and streetsweepers hot in its pursuit.

And finally what is it? A letdown.

That's the great secret of love. Either you can't get it, or you get it and it falls short of your hopes, or it turns into a nightmare. Or, like Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj, just when you think you've got it you lose it.

Folks, it's a sham, a counterfeit, a hoax. It's not the real thing.

It's false because the whole enterprise depends on a contraption devised of blood, bones, guts, hair, and other such rubbish, pasted together and made to look good by an overwhelming spell of illusion. Put two such bodies together, throw in a few spicy hormones, and there you've got it—love.

So the Taj was perfect. Gardens, carvings, lamplight, jewels. And at the center of it all? Two dead bodies.

Because the Taj—that ideal symbol of love—is finally a tomb. And the love for which it stands, if that love endures at all, ends always in death.

If you want anything better, you have to love what lasts, not what rots and perishes. What lasts is the atma, the soul, the spark of life that makes a body that's living different from one that's dead. And by "soul" I don't mean merely some metaphor for some flash in the eyes, some stirring in the mind, a little bit of spring in the step. I mean the life force behind all this, the power the machinery runs on. That spark of life is the actual self.

You may love that living force perceived within someone else, or you may direct your love to that force within yourself. But your touch with the life force within someone else is bound by death. The body gets in the way. And how deep can you go in a love affair in which the only one you love is your self and your self is the only one who loves you?

So real love means the eternal love between the small self and the Supreme Self, the spark of life and the source of all life, between a small vessel of love and the great reservoir of love, between you and the Personality of Godhead, Krsna.

To reawaken that love, beyond the tomb of the Taj, is the purpose of Back to Godhead.

—Jayadvaita Swami

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Less Work for Doctors

I am a regular reader of the magazine Back to Godhead. As a health person, I feel that at present human beings are going through the phase of Intense Turmoil. On one hand a small percentage of people have immense material facilities at their disposal but are still totally dissatisfied. And on the other hand a large section of people have neither material amenities nor mental satisfaction. The only way out of this mess is to follow the teachings of Jagad-guru Prabhupada.

I have experienced his teaching converting a completely tense and addicted person into a devotee living an ideal spiritual life.

I wish that more and more of our population should follow the path of the Hare Krsna movement, so that we doctors will have less and less work for treating and curing suffering human beings.

Dr. Subhash Salunke
Director of Health Services,
Maharashtra State

Thank You—And Be Careful

The Indian inaugural issue of BTG comes as a long-awaited sweet dish while we have all along relished Srila Prabhupada's mercy in his books. I am thankful to the organizers who have brought out this issue during the Prabhupada Centennial year.

On page 5 a beautiful picture of Lord Krsna and Lord Balarama on the reverse side of a subscription entry form would be cut through in the process of detaching the form. I therefore suggest that such forms appear on separate pages.

V. Sreenivas
Scientist, CISRA, CLRI
Adyar, Chennai

OUR REPLY: Yes, we'll be more careful about those forms.

Heavenly Abortion

The other day I was speaking with a seventy-year-old who loves quoting and telling stories from the Bible. He surprised me with his opinion on abortion. He is convinced that God doesn't hold aborted babies accountable for anything and sends them all to heaven. He feels it's better for them to go to heaven than be born into a world of atheists or grow up atheists themselves. So abortion is all right.

What could I tell him?

Karuna Devi Dasi
Alachua, Florida

OUR REPLY: The man's first mistake is his failure to understand that the soul is eternal and that the child in the womb carries the karma, or reactions, of previous lifetimes. So the child is not innocent. If he were, he would have been liberated at the end of his previous life. Any of Lord Krsna's instructions in the Gita on the eternality of the soul clarifies this point.

Besides, if abortion sends children to heaven, why not abort all fetuses?

Killing unborn children is something one simply has no right to do. The soul enters the womb by Krsna's arrangement (karmana daiva-netrena), and we have no right to interfere. Srila Prabhupada compares abortion to illegally kicking a person out of his apartment. The punishment for abortion is severe—to enter womb after womb, only to be repeatedly aborted.

Rediscovering South India

I read the recent BTG issue on Sri Rangam with interest. I am truly glad to see the magazine moving away from a hitherto north-based Indian view of the movement and make the effort to rediscover and present the heritage of the south as well. Bhakti singing has deep southern beginnings and much significance till today. Presentations of Vaisnavism from a slightly different culture, under another ancient tradition, Tamil, will allow a more complete view of an ubiquitous movement.

In this regard, I was equally happy to see an earlier issue on Tirupathi Venkateswara, another temple for Visnu, and very popular in India. I hope BTG will tour other parts, such as Karnataka and Gujarat, in its reporting of Vaisnava legacies.

Shyamala Parameswaran
(via the Internet)

OUR REPLY: Thank you. And yes, we will.


In the Sri Rangam issue [September/October 1996] one note explains a photograph by saying that a priest is putting the Deity's crown on the heads of the devotees. It is not the Deity's crown but the feet of the Deity, placed on a helmet to fit on our heads. No Vaisnava would accept Visnu's crown on his head. Another caption explains that a sannyasi is accepting remnants of the Lord's meal. The photograph, however, shows him accepting a piece of the Deity's cloth on his head.

Bhanu Swami
Chennai, India

OUR REPLY: Thank you for the clarification. The caption about the sannyasi said he was being honored in a ceremony in which he receives prasadam remnants of the Deity's meal. The photo showed a part of that ceremony—but not the part in which he actually receives the prasadam. We apologize for the confusion.

We'd like to hear from you. Please send correspondence to: BTG, P. O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. Fax: (904) 462-7893. Or BTG, 33 Janki Kutir, Next to State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049, India. Phone: (022) 618-1718.
Fax: (022) 618-4827.

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How to Approach a Spritiual Master

Lord Krsna gives three
requirements for one seeking
enlightenment from a self-realized soul.

A lecture given in New York on August 14, 1966

by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.—Bhagavad-gita 4.34

KRSNA ADVISES, "IF YOU WANT to know the transcendental science, just approach someone who knows it." Pranipata means "surrender." You must select a person to whom you can surrender yourself.

Nobody likes to surrender to anyone. We are puffed up with whatever knowledge we have. "Oh, who can give me knowledge?" And there is regular propaganda that for spiritual realization there is no need of a spiritual master. But the Vedic literature—Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Upanisads—says that there is need of a spiritual master. For example the Vedic Upanisads say, tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: "If you want to learn the transcendental subject, you must approach a spiritual master."

The first requirement is that you must be eager to learn the transcendental subject. Suppose I want to learn the art of music. Then I have to find a musician. Without having the association of a musician, one cannot learn the art of music. The same holds true for any art. If you want to become an engineer, you have to enroll in an engineering college or a technical college and learn there. Nor can one become a medical practitioner simply by purchasing books from the market and reading at home. That is not possible. You have to enroll in a medical college and undergo training and practical examination and so many things.

Similarly, if you want to learn Bhagavad-gita or any transcendental subject matter, Lord Krsna says that you must go to a person to whom you can surrender yourself. That means you have to check: "Who is the real person who can give me instruction on Bhagavad-gita or any Vedic literature?" Your search must not be whimsical. You have to search very seriously for a person who actually knows the subject. Otherwise, why surrender to someone? But since you have to find a person to whom you can voluntarily surrender, without finding that person your mission will not be fulfilled.

In the beginning of the Bhagavad-gita Arjuna was talking with Krsna just like a friend. But when Arjuna realized, "Our friendly talk will not make a solution," he surrendered unto Krsna. Sisyas te 'ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam: "I become a surrendered disciple unto You. Please instruct me in my duty." This is the process.

Intelligent Inquiry

Here Krsna advises, "If you want to learn Bhagavad-gita, then you have to go to a person to whom you can surrender." But you should not blindly surrender. You must be able to inquire—pariprasna. The next qualification is pariprasna, "inquiry." Without inquiry you cannot make advancement. A student in school who inquires from the teacher is intelligent. Even a child who inquires, "Oh, father, what is this? What is this?" is intelligent.

So inquiry is required, not only surrender—"Oh, I have found a very good spiritual master. All right. I have surrendered. Now all my business is finished." No. You may have a very good spiritual master, but if you have no power to inquire, then you cannot make progress. Inquiries must be there. How do you inquire? Not to challenge. Not "Oh, I shall see what kind of spiritual master he is. Let me challenge him and put some irrelevant questions and talk nonsensically, this way and that way." That kind of inquiry will not help. Pariprasna means "inquiry on the point."

And that inquiry should be sevaya, "with service." Seva means "service." One should not think, "Oh, I have inquired so many things from such and such person, and I have not rendered any payment or service, so I have gained." No. Without service your inquiry will be futile.

So three requirements for approaching a spiritual master are given here: pranipata (surrender), pariprasna (inquiry), and seva (service).

No Diamonds from a Grocer

Pranipata means you must at least have the qualification to find a person actually qualified to give you real instruction. That qualification you must have. That remains on you.

Suppose you have to purchase some gold or jewelry. If you do not know where to purchase—if you go to a grocery shop to purchase a jewel—then you'll be cheated. If you go to a grocery shop and ask, "Can you give me a diamond?" the grocer will understand, "Here is a fool. So let me give him something else."

"Here. This is a diamond."

"Oh. What is the price?"

The grocer can charge anything. And when you come home, your relatives will ask, "What have you brought?"

"This is a diamond. I bought it at the grocery shop."

That way of finding a spiritual master will not do. You have to become a little intelligent, because without being intelligent one cannot make any spiritual progress.

The Vedanta-sutra says, athato brahma-jijnasa. Brahma-jijnasa means "to inquire about the supreme subject matter, Brahman." That inquiry requires a qualification: atha. Atha indicates that those who have become experienced by the miserable life in the material world can inquire about the Absolute Truth, about spiritual life.

Similarly, the Srimad-Bhagavatam states, tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam. Uttamam means udgata-tamam, "transcendental." Tama means "darkness." Anything of the material world is in darkness, because this material world is dark. You know that the whole universe is dark and therefore there is need of sunlight, moonlight, electricity. Uttamam refers to that which is beyond this darkness—the transcendental subject, the spiritual subject. In the spiritual world there is no darkness.

Only one who wants to inquire about the spiritual world must find a spiritual master. Otherwise, there is no need of a spiritual master. For material improvement you don't require a spiritual master. For that you can work just as so many people are working. That is prescribed.

But because you are interested in the subject of Brahman—the spiritual subject—therefore you require a spiritual master. That is clearly stated. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta: "Therefore one has to surrender unto the spiritual master." Tasmat means "therefore."

Easy with Bhakti

In any Vedic literature you'll find the same instruction as stated in the Bhagavad-gita:

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah

Jnaninah means jnani, or "a man in perfect knowledge." One in perfect knowledge has perfect vision—not theoretical, but actual vision of the spiritual subject matter.

Tattva means "the Absolute Truth." You'll find in the Bhagavad-gita that Krsna is the supreme tattva, the Absolute Truth. Krsna says, manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye: "Out of many, many thousands of people, a few may try to get spiritual salvation." Not everyone is expected to hanker after spiritual salvation. That hankering requires many, many years' qualification. Then Lord Krsna says, yatatam api siddhanam kascin mam vetti tattvatah: "Out of many perfected spiritualists, only some may know Me in truth." First of all, out of many, many thousands of people, only some want perfection in spiritual life. Then out of those who have attained such perfection, one or two may understand Krsna.

The subject matter of Krsna is not easy. It is very difficult. But one can understand it very easily by following the process given in Bhagavad-gita:

bhaktya mam abhijanati
yavan yas casmi tattvatah
tato mam tattvato jnatva
visate tad-anantaram

If you accept bhakti, devotional service, you can understand the difficult subject matter of Krsna very easily. Bhaktya mam abhijanati. Abhijanati means that you can understand perfectly. Yavan yas casmi tattvatah. Tattvatah means that you can understand the Absolute Truth as it is. And tato mam tattvato jnatva: after understanding the science of Krsna perfectly, you become eligible to enter the spiritual kingdom.

Lord Krsna says that after many, many births, when I am fully perfect in knowledge, I have to surrender to Him. "Then why not immediately surrender to Him? Why shall I wait for many, many births?" That is a very intelligent question. If surrender to Him is the end of perfection, then why not accept the perfection immediately?

But people are doubtful. Somebody asked me, "How long will it take to be perfect in Krsna consciousness?" I replied that Krsna consciousness can be had in one second, or it cannot be had in thousands of births and deaths. But if I understand the principle that after attaining full knowledge I have to ultimately surrender to Krsna—to become a mahatma, a great soul—why not immediately surrender to Krsna?

Most of us are not prepared to immediately accept Krsna as Supreme, or we have many doubts. Therefore, to drive away all our doubtful ideas, the sastras, the scriptures—especially the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam—are there. If we scrutinizingly study these two books, we can understand the science of Krsna very nicely, and our progress in Krsna consciousness will be definite.

Thank you very much.

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Remembering Srila Prabhupada

By Srutakirti Dasa

September 8, 1972—ISKCON Pittsburgh

This is my first full day as Srila Prabhupada's personal servant. My total training consisted of getting to watch Sudama Maharaja give one massage, and being told, "When Srila Prabhupada rings the bell, go immediately to his room and see how you can serve him."

It is now about 2:00 P.M. The bell rings. I nervously trot into Srila Prabhupada's room and pay obeisances.

Sitting up I inquire, "What can I do, Srila Prabhupada?"

He smiles and says, "Oh, nothing. I just wanted to see how quick you are."

After successfully completing my first mission, I relax and go back to my room. Srila Prabhupada is expertly putting me at ease with his kindness, gentleness, and sense of humor.

(Excerpt from a work in progress.)

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Lessons from the Road

Accepting Suffering

By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

THOUGH THE Srimad-Bhagavatam assures us that if we inquire into the Absolute Truth we will not suffer repeated birth and death, it does not guarantee that in this life we will be immune to all suffering. The Bhagavatam tells of many great devotees who suffered. Prahlada Maharaja was tortured by his father. Narada Muni's mother died when he was only five years old. Queen Kunti suffered continually as she wandered in exile with her five sons. Devaki and Vasudeva saw their first six children murdered by Kamsa. Even Srila Prabhupada seemed to suffer as he sustained two heart attacks aboard the Jaladuta and faced untold difficulties in his preaching.

When a disciple asked Prabhupada why the devotee suffers, Prabhupada said that whenever a devotee suffers he can take solace in knowing that he is suffering for the last time: by tolerating the suffering, he is becoming detached from the body and eligible to return to the spiritual world.

Other devotees pressed the point over the years: But why does a pure devotee suffer? Srila Prabhupada often didn't answer that question directly except to assure us that our suffering and that of pure devotees is not the same. The pure devotee appears to suffer, but because he never forgets Krsna and depends upon Him in all circumstances, he is always in transcendental bliss. Life in this world is discordant, bittersweet. In the absolute world, bitter and sweet do not conflict, because Krsna is behind everything.

Since we are still striving to attain constant remembrance of Krsna, our suffering, unlike the pure devotee's, is not absolute but is meant to drive us toward submission and dependence on the Lord. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada challenged us not to approach Krsna to have our suffering reduced. Devotional service is not an antidote for pain. Those who look to Krsna to free them from pain are salvationists. We are interested in service and surrender. Suffering strips away our material attachments. It lets us see our bodies, families, homes, and world for what they are. We are suffering because we have been born in the material world. We are born and then we die. At death, our identity and accumulated possessions are ruthlessly ripped from us and we are forced into another womb.

This suffering is so horrible and all-encompassing that the Bhagavatam frequently reminds us of the cure: we simply have to inquire into the Absolute Truth. "Only by making such inquiries in this world can one be successful and perfectly cognizant, for such inquiries invoke transcendental ecstatic love unto the Personality of Godhead, who is the proprietor of all the universes, and guarantee cent per cent immunity from the dreadful repetition of birth and death." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.39) Inquiry into the Absolute Truth is simple. If we ask the pure devotee who is God, he will show us Krsna. If we are sincere, we will follow up that first question with a second: "How can I serve Krsna?" These two inquiries can invoke our dormant love for God and free us from all suffering. Inquiry implies that we are curious and eager to know Krsna. The more we study Krsna's qualities and pastimes, the more we will come to love Him and feel dependent upon Him. The more dependent we become, the less bothered we will be by our material suffering. As Lord Siva tells his wife in the Eighth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, "Certainly it is the duty of the master to protect his suffering dependents." A devotee doesn't waste time trying to avoid suffering. Srila Prabhupada compared the material world to an ocean. The water froths and foams, and although bubbles come together for a few moments, they are dispersed just as suddenly by the next wave. Everything in the material world is temporary. We are here today—complete with our happiness and pain—and gone tomorrow. Only questions about the Personality of Godhead can soothe us and grant us liberation. What more could we want?

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of many books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.

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Lord Krsna's Cuisine

Cooking Class: Lesson 29
Indian Sweets and Words From a Vaisnavi Halvai

By Yamuna Devi

THANKS TO Srila Prabhupada, today we can sample sweets of the Vedic tradition mentioned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, and other scriptures. For over thirty years ISKCON devotees have played a big role in distributing classic Indian sweets to tens of thousands of people on every continent.

Besides mouth-watering sweets made from regionally grown Indian fruits, grains, and flours, an extensive array of sweets and confections are made from little more than milk and a sweetener. In forthcoming lessons we will focus on some major categories of sweets: pastries, syrup sweets, fruit-based sweets, grain-based halavas, khir milk puddings, sandesa cheese fudges, succulent cheese confections, and pera and barfi milk-fudges.

In India an expert sweet-maker is called a halvai and may work in a temple, a bazaar, or at home. As an introduction to sweet-making, I present here a few words from one of ISKCON's legendary halvais, Kulangana Devi, of Bhaktivedanta Manor, our temple outside London. Famous for her dedication as well as her superb sweets, this youthful sixty-four-year-old has inspired devotees worldwide. At our last meeting about two years ago, I asked her about her culinary journey.

Yamuna Devi: Would you tell me a little bit about your background?

Kulangana Devi: By the grace of Lord Krsna I came to the Krsna consciousness movement in 1972. The first two years my main service was distributing books. But by chance, in 1974, I watched devotees at the Bury Place temple in London making sweets for offering at mangala-arati [the first Deity worship of the day]. They were making "quick" milk sweets by combining milk powder with boiled-down milk. The best was a melt-in-your-mouth confection called "Simply Wonderful," a sweet Srila Prabhupada had taught his disciples in 1966 and 1967. (Incidentally, by 1975, with the exception of Simply Wonderfuls, most ISKCON cooks stopped making quick sweets, opting to make them the classical way). Other quick sweets were almost as good, one of them decorated with a film of edible silver foil. Curiously, it was that silver foil that first inspired me to learn more about making sweets—that and something I had read in Srimad-Bhagavatam.

YD: What was that?

KD: In the purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.21.1, Srila Prabhupada writes, "Real opulence is supplied by natural gifts such as gold, silver, pearls, valuable stones, fresh flowers, trees, and silk cloth. Thus Vedic civilization recommends opulence and decoration with these natural gifts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such opulence immediately changes the condition of the mind, and the entire atmosphere becomes spiritualized."

I knew that the Lord's form is ornamented with silver and gold jewelry, but the Bury Place kitchen was the first place I'd seen sweets decorated or garnished with gossamer-thin sheets of pure gold and silver. From reading Srila Prabhupada's words, I became determined to learn about sweet-making.

YD: How did you get started?

KD: At first I assisted others, gradually learning to work on my own.

YD: When did making sweets become your main occupation?

KD: It was in 1985, when I moved to New Vrindaban, West Virginia. I gravitated at once to the temple kitchen and the best halvai I could find—Dharmakala Devi, with sixteen years' experience. I made milk sweets for long hours each day. We cooked on wood stoves, using only farm-fresh milk and the purest ingredients. I became acutely aware of cookware, utensils, sweeteners, heat sources, and the butterfat content in the milk. It was a kind of concentrated apprentice program; I studied from whomever would teach me. I cooked through all the recipes in your Lord Krishna's Cuisine.

YD: Did you become a full-time halvai when you returned to England?

KD: Yes. At Bhaktivedanta Manor I began by improving cleanliness standards and reorganizing the layout of the kitchen. We bought thick-bottomed stainless-steel pots to use only for sweets. We kept all utensils for sweet-making separate from other cookware. And because studies show that bacteria multiplies on plastic cutting boards, we used only wooden cutting boards.

YD: How about a few tips from your years of experience?

KD: Use the freshest and purest ingredients. I use raw milk brought straight from the milking parlor to the kitchen, still warm.

Some sweets are very rich and sweet, others are lighter. Krsna likes both—He's not a health-food faddist. Especially in temple kitchens, we're cooking for Krsna's pleasure, so if a dish calls for cream and sugar, use it. If the prasadam is too rich for us, we can simply honor it by taking a little bite.

If you scorch or burn milk over high heat, that's lamentable, because you've wasted it, taken away its food value.

If you reduce milk very slowly over low heat, its lactose sugars caramel-ize, and it will take on a pleasant toffee flavor.

YD: Thank you for the valuable advice.

KD: Hare Krsna.

In a curious twist, Kulangana Devi no longer uses the pure silver foils that first attracted her to sweet-making. According to her research, silver foil was not used in ancient Vaisnava kitchens. The use of silver foil is new, imitating a practice in Jain temples. As a purist, she wishes to preserve the ancient tradition, and we thank her.

Yamuna Devi is the author of the award-winning cookbooks Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking and Yamuna's Table. She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and Vegetarian Times. Write to her in care of BTG.

Simply Wonderfuls
(Khara Pera)

Srila Prabhupada called this mock milk fudge a "simply wonderful sweet." Some varieties include a dash of essence such as vanilla, almond, lemon, or lime. This version resembles firm, uncooked fondant in texture and is so easy to assemble that kindergarten children can turn out a successful batch for grown-up treats.

I have made this sweet around the world, using different processed ingredients. Health-food-store non-instant skim-milk powder yields the creamiest consistency, whole-milk powder has a firm fudge-like consistency, and Milkman brand instant non-fat milk powder is somewhere in between and slightly granular. If you use a granulated sugar—raw or white—process it in a blender until superfine. Because these ingredients are processed and stored under varied conditions, you may need to use more or less milk powder to achieve the desired texture.

Basic Simply Wonderfuls

(Makes 24)

Preparation time (after assembling ingredients): 10 minutes

½ cup (120 ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (60 g) confectioners' sugar
1-¾ cups (220 g) dry milk powder, or as needed
1 teaspoon (5 ml) milk or cream, or as necessary
a few drops of flavoring essence (as suggested above), or
2 tablespoons (30 ml) grated nuts or dried fruit puree

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Using your hands, work in the milk powder and milk or cream, adjusting portions as necessary, to make a medium-soft fondant. Flavor with essence, nuts, or fruit puree and continue to work until well blended.

Wash and dry your hands, then roll the fondant into smooth balls. (You can also roll the fondant around whole nuts or sandwich a pellet between nut halves). Place the sweets in paper cases and keep refrigerated in a well sealed container for up to four days.

Offer to Krsna chilled or at room temperature.

Coconut and Cream Cheese Simply Wonderfuls

Khara Nariyal Pera

(Makes 24)

This mock milk fudge takes only minutes to assemble. I find homemade yogurt cheese a pleasant alternative to cream cheese because it has fewer calories and adds its own distinctive flavor.

Preparation time (after assembling ingredients): 10 minutes

¼ cup (60 ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (60 ml) neuchatel or cream cheese at room temperature, or fresh yogurt cheese
¼ cup (60 ml) frozen apple concentrate, thawed
½ cup (45 g) toasted grated coconut
1 ½ cups (165 g) dry milk powder, or as needed
generous ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) freshly ground nutmeg

Cream the butter, cheese, and apple concentrate in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the coconut and blend well. With your hands, work in powdered milk until it forms a medium-stiff dough. Wash and dry your hands; then roll the fondant into smooth balls and place them in paper candy cases. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg. Offer to Krsna. Keep refrigerated, in a well sealed container, for up to four days.

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Schooling Krsna's Children

Why Children Misbehave

By Urmila Devi Dasi

WHY DO CHILDREN disobey or get into mischief? We might assume they're simply rebellious, but that's rarely the case. Let's discuss some possible causes of misbehavior.

The Lower Modes

Lord Krsna explains in Bhagavad-gita that material nature is composed of three modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance. Everything is in one of these modes or a combination of them—food, work, games, books, clothing, knowledge, relationships, time of day, and so forth. Children whose environment is mostly in goodness will be generally good, whereas those whose environment is mostly in passion and ignorance will be full of those qualities. For example, an environment in ignorance would be one in which children go to bed and awaken late, watch violent and sexual movies, are served meat and intoxicants (such as caffeine-laden sodas), and are surrounded by insults and fighting. Goodness supports spiritual development; the two lower modes obstruct it.


Children living in a spiritually enlivening atmosphere will rarely rebel. Sometimes children rebel because they see hypocrisy, such as non-spiritual behavior in a parent, teacher, or leader instructing them in Krsna consciousness. Such rebellion comes typically in early adolescence, when a child's intelligence expands to understand the nature of adult society. All adults can't be perfect, but we can strive for the ideal, while honestly admitting our mistakes.

Wrong Reaction

Sometimes a child who's rarely treated with affection will act out of line just to get noticed. I've seen children say nasty or disgusting things to make adults angry. The adult's reaction may be negative, but for a love-starved child any emotion may be better than nothing. These children need unemotional instruction when they're unruly, and plenty of love and affection the rest of the time.

Unregulated Life

When children are sick, tired, or hungry, they often don't show their needs like adults and may become rude and uncooperative. Children chronically late to bed are often chronically disobedient as well. Children who eat and sleep irregularly can be difficult because they are always tired and hungry. Regulated eating and sleeping, which Krsna recommends in the Gita, is often a simple key to good behavior in a child.

Poor Training

It may seem unbelievable, but some parents and teachers actually train children to disobey, be rude, have tantrums, and so forth. Children learn to act in ways that earn them some kind of "reward." For example, if when a child insults or threatens the parents they give in to the child's demands, the child is being trained to be nasty, as much as an animal is trained to roll over and jump to get food.

Misunderstood Natures

Sometimes what seems to be misbehavior in a child isn't so at all. Adults with little knowledge of the normal behavior of children at different ages may mislabel a child's actions. In addition, every child has an inborn psychology. We commonly think that our particular way of perceiving and relating to the world is ideal, but our child may have a different, equally valid way of doing so. For example, a parent may be reserved, deliberate, and task-oriented, and the child may be lively, outgoing, and people-oriented. To the parent, the child may seem scattered, frivolous, irresponsible, and uncooperative. The parent must learn that every nature can be directed to the Lord's service. A mother satisfied to sit and sew quietly for the Deity might find that her daughter is happier planning a festival.

Bad Examples

One of the most serious mistakes an adult can make is to cut down a child's other adult authorities. If a parent criticizes a child's teacher, the child will think, "Why do I have to do my work or show respect? My parents will take my side." And in families where one parent frequently comes between the child and the other parent, children never learn to cooperate.

We must also be careful not to project our own problems onto children when we are sick, tired, hungry, or uninspired.

When we address the underlying causes of difficulty for our children, we will find that our usual relationship with them is one of peaceful cooperation, helping us and them to advance more easily in Krsna consciousness.

Urmila Devi Dasi and her family run a school for boys and girls in North Carolina. She is the major author and compiler of Vaikuntha Children, a guide to Krsna conscious education for children.

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The Land, the Cows, and Krsna

Growing Children in the Garden

By Harakanta Devi Dasi

FOR A DEVOTEE, gardening means raising crops to offer Krsna. Of all the things we grow in the garden—fruits, flowers, vegetables—I think the best "crop" is our children. Parents, children, and gardens go perfectly together. The combination of love, fun, and work in the friendly environment of the garden ensures that whatever the children learn there they'll remember in a treasured way.

In the garden, parents can entertain even the youngest toddlers. Let them use their dump trucks to deliver seeds, their toy shovels and wheel barrows to deliver compost or mulch. To keep children from stepping on new plants, I hill up all the rows so the children can easily see them and step over them—or jump over them. What four-year-old doesn't love to jump and jump? If you make it so children can see the rows, they are free to run in the garden and make it a game not to touch the rows.

Teach children that gardening is fun. Be sensitive to their attention spans and size limits. When you give a child his or her own rows to care for, make sure the rows are very short—that way weeding is easy. And because children take pride in working with their own tools, it's good to invest in tools their size.

As a child grows, his garden patch can grow along with him. Start by making the plot twice as long and twice as wide as the child's height. As children get older, give them no more than they can work in one hour.

A garden is the ideal place to share lessons of Krsna consciousness. Show your child how the soul is present in every living entity, including plants. Plants can talk, but in their own way. Wilted plants are saying, "I'm thirsty! Please, give me some water." Small scraggly plants are saying, "Help, the weeds are trying to choke me to death—save me!" Pale plants are saying, "I'm hungry! Please, give me some manure."

Children easily develop an appreciation for manure. They know that Krsna loves the cows because they are friendly and playful and provide many benefits. People become strong by drinking milk, and plants become strong when you feed them manure. Encourage children's pride in their work. Relatives and visitors who tour the garden are usually a good source of praise for fledgling green thumbs. Take pictures of children working in the garden during different stages and make a small book of the photos. If the children like to color or sketch, have them make pictures of the garden as it grows and changes.

In early spring you can start your own plants indoors. Peat pellets are good for kids to work with. You can also show them how to make their own evenly spaced seed tape. Unroll a long sheet of toilet paper. Have the child dab it every inch or so with a dot of wet flour-paste and press a seed into every dot. Allow the whole long sheet to dry. Roll it up carefully. Later on the child can dig a shallow trench, unroll the seed tape, and cover it with a thin layer of soil. In the moist earth, the paste and toilet paper will disintegrate, leaving only the child's perfectly spaced row of seedlings.

As soon as the weather begins to warm up, build a compost pile with cow manure, forest leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps (no fat, please). Children can see how Krsna has arranged that by some things decaying and decomposing, nutrients are recycled so that new plants can grow lush and strong.

If you are imaginative, you can turn work into play, but still get the job done. Make a bean teepee village. Plant your corn in a spiraling circle. Plant flowers among your vegetables. Marigolds help repel insects and hide young brassicas from greedy ground hogs. Nasturtium flowers (and leaves) can be offered to Krsna in salads.

These are just a few ways you can turn gardening into a form of devotional service your children will love. When Krsna and Balarama go to the forest with their friends to tend cows, their work is actually play. Similarly, successful gardening for kids and parents mixes play with work in such a way that no one can tell for sure which is which.

Harakanta Devi Dasi, a devotee since 1976, and her family live in a devotee farming community. Though their house has no electricity or running water, their life is opulent in peacefulness, simplicity, hard work, and good cheer.

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India's Heritage

Let Lord Rama Reign Today

By Ravi Gupta

RAMA-RAJYA. The word strikes a note in almost every Indian's heart. Rama-rajya was the ideal kingdom of Lord Ramacandra, Lord Krsna's incarnation as the ideal king. Lord Rama ruled during Treta-yuga, some two million years ago, and the sage Valmiki recorded His acts in the epic Ramayana, still with us today. Stories from the Ramayana have been handed down for countless generations. Although told and retold every year, they're ever fresh. After two million years, people still hanker for Rama-rajya.

The reign of Lord Rama was a truly memorable time. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.10.51-53) Sukadeva Goswami says, "Lord Ramacandra became king during Treta-yuga, but because of His good government, the age was like Satya-yuga [the golden age of religion]. Everyone was religious and completely happy.

"O Maharaja Pariksit, during the reign of Lord Ramacandra the forests, the rivers, the hills and mountains, the states, the seven islands, and the seven seas were all favorable in supplying the necessities of life for all living beings.

"When Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was the king of this world, all bodily and mental suffering, disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear, and fatigue were completely absent. There was even no death for those who did not want it."

What must we do to have Rama-rajya today? We need an ideal government. Srila Prabhupada says that for an ideal government both the ruler and the subjects must be ideal. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, when Lord Ramacandra was king all the citizens were properly trained in their role in society. They followed the prescribed duties and codes of conduct for the varnasrama social system. And, most important, they were all Vaisnavas, devotees of the Lord. With good citizens, the society was happy, peaceful, and prosperous.

Without good citizens society becomes chaotic. Trying to bring about peace and order in such a society by enforcing laws is useless. Srila Prabhupada writes, "Throughout the entire world there are so many states, legislative assemblies, and parliaments, but still the citizens are rogues and thieves. Good citizenship, therefore, cannot be enforced; the citizens must be trained."

There can be ideal citizens only when the leaders are ideal. The citizens naturally look up to their leaders for guidance, so the leaders must set a perfect example. In the Bhagavad-gita (3.21) Lord Krsna says, "Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues."

Lord Ramacandra set the perfect example. He was the ideal king, son, brother, husband, and master. He is called maryada-purusottama, "one who exhibits ideal behavior."

Besides good citizens and good leaders, the most important component of Rama-rajya is Lord Rama Himself, because wherever the Lord is, there also is His kingdom.

All the citizens of Ayodhya, Lord Rama's kingdom, were great devotees of the Lord. They were completely surrendered to Him and therefore entitled to share in His opulence. But if we try for the kingdom of Rama without Rama, we are left with only suffering and illusion. We become like Ravana, who wanted to enjoy Sita (Laksmi, the goddess of fortune) without Rama. All Ravana gained was death.

Therefore, to truly achieve Rama-rajya we must first invoke the presence of Lord Rama. In a previous age the citizens of Ayodhya had Him in His physical form. In this age the Lord appears in the form of his holy name (kali-kale nama-rupe krsna-avatara). If we chant the Lord's holy names purely and sincerely, and like the citizens of Ayodhya develop pure love for Him, He will certainly appear. Thus even in this age we can have Rama-rajya. Jaya Sri Rama!

Ravi Gupta, age fourteen, lives at the Hare Krsna center in Boise, Idaho. The center is run by his parents. Ravi, who was schooled at home, is a second-year student at Boise State University.

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Book Distribution

Some Firsts in the Far East

By Dhruvanatha Dasa

WHILE I AND OTHER devotees were spreading Krsna consciousness in Nepal in the early 1980s, we decided that since the country was the world's last surviving Hindu kingdom, the hotel rooms in the Katmandu should have Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is, just as hotel rooms in the Christian world often have Bibles. So we phoned the most prestigious hotels near the king's palace. Six hotels agreed to take books—a total of one thousand—and we delivered them.

A week later we received a frantic call from a hotel manager: every book was gone. He had his suspicions, but it was too late to do anything. He told us that a delegation from Beijing had occupied every room during the last week, and only after their checking out was the loss of the books discovered.

We were elated. Not only would the hotel have to order more books, but many copies of Bhagavad-gita As It Is were now on their way to China.

The Tibet Road

Around the time the first hardback edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is was printed in Chinese, the Chinese government was completing a road in Nepal to Tibet. We were fortunate enough to get one copy of the new book hot-off-the-press, and we decided to take the new road to the Tibetan border to distribute the book.

We didn't know quite what to expect. We arrived just before sunset. Only a small stream and a wooden bridge divided the two countries. Nothing was stopping us from leaving Nepal and walking over the bridge into Tibet. Could it be that easy?

I was elected to give it a try. Carrying Srila Prabhupada's book, I marched triumphantly onto the bridge. Halfway over I was confronted by a Chinese sentry at the other end. As I went to take another step, he aimed his rifle at me, and I believe that if I had taken another step he would have fired. I stopped abruptly. Not wanting to antagonize the soldier, I carefully balanced the book on the rail of the bridge and reluctantly retraced my steps. We then patiently waited to see what would happen.

The sentry reslung his rifle, and eventually his curiosity got the better of him. When he reached the spot where I had left the book, he looked quizzically at the cover before picking it up. He glanced our way, nodded his head in acknowledgment, and walked back to his post. The first book by Srila Prabhupada had now entered Tibet. We wondered how many times the book might change hands and how many changes of heart might occur as a result.

At the Kampuchean Border

A year later I found myself in Thailand, reunited with a dear Godbrother, Atmavidya Dasa, and a few other devotees. He had recently finished printing Srila Prabhupada's Beyond Birth and Death in Lao and Kampuchean, and we decided to try to get some copies into Kampuchea (formerly Cambodia). Again this was at a time when both countries were off limits to foreigners. Arangapatet in Thailand was the closest border with Kampuchea. But there was fighting there by rebel groups, and the border was temporarily closed. We looked for an alternate route, and two days later our luck was in. Driving down a potholed road, we were amazed to find an old road sign that read "Cambodia 3 km."

We followed the road until it petered out. A footpath through a small area of jungle beckoned us onwards. It was eerily quiet, no sounds of shells falling or gunfire.

The path forked after it came out of the jungle. A deserted muddy labyrinth of trenches and bunkers lay on either side. While we were deliberating on which way to go, we were startled by two Thai soldiers. They looked at us in disbelief.

Later we learned that they were part of the Thai border foot patrol and had spotted our vehicle. We also learned that we had been in a treacherous area of no-man's land, and had we gone any farther we would have run the risk of being blown up by land mines or shot at by snipers on the hilltops. But by Krsna's grace we had met the Thai soldiers. They agreed to take our books and pass them over to the Kampuchean border patrol on their next shift.

Dhruvanatha Dasa served for many years in Nepal, Thailand, and Malaysia. He now lives in England, where he has recently worked with the Bhaktivedanta Archives.

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Bhakti-yoga at Home

Please Accept My Obeisances

By Rohininandana Dasa

WHEN I FIRST visited a Hare Krsna temple, one of the first things to strike me was the word obeisance. I didn't really understand the meaning of what sounded like a strange, old-fashioned word. Recently I looked it up in a dictionary: "Gesture, esp. bow or curtsy, expressing submission, respect, or salutation, (make an, do, pay, obeisance); deference, homage, submission."

For devotees "obeisances" is a translation of namaste or namah, which means, "Bow, obeisance, reverential salutation, adoration." Srila Prabhupada writes that na means "negation" and ma means "false ego"; offering obeisances chases away pride.

Bowing to Srila Prabhupada and the Deities

I watch a person enter Lord Krsna's temple at Bhaktivedanta Manor. He slips through the door, softly rings a bell hanging inside, glances at the Deities, and calls out Their Names—"Jaya Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda!" He then lies face down on the floor, arms outstretched, and offers a prayer to Srila Prabhupada.

The devotee gets up slowly, and with joined palms walks toward the altar. He respectfully gazes first at the feet of Radha and Krsna and then at Their entire transcendental forms.

A devotee (Vaisnava) can be defined as one who accepts Lord Visnu (Krsna) as his worshipable Deity and bows before the Lord and His servants (visnu asya devata iti vaisnava). Furthermore, a devotee respects everything and everyone in the Lord's creation, from the great demigods to the tiny insects.

Bowing to Devotees

I watch two devotees meet. They smile, and with joined palms one of them says, "Please accept my obeisances, Prabhu." They both bow, heads touching the floor. I hear them recite a prayer glorifying devotees. They then rise and embrace.

In every culture people have their way of greeting, and in Vaisnava society devotees greet each other as representatives of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who resides in their hearts.

To regularly offer our obeisances to devotees is a good practice. It will help soften our hearts, spiritualize our existence, and clear away any tension or misunderstandings. If we have wronged or offended a devotee and we sincerely beg forgiveness and fall down at his or her feet, we are almost sure to be forgiven.

Prabhu and Dasa

Devotees refer to themselves as "Dasa" and address each other as "Prabhu." Dasa means "servant." My own name, Rohininandana Dasa, indicates that I am a servant of Lord Balarama, "the son and happiness of Rohini." As with any name of Krsna, His expansions, or His pure devotees, by calling out "Rohininandana" we make spiritual advancement.

Srila Prabhupada points out in his Introduction to Bhagavad-gita As It Is that to serve others is natural for anyone. Even when a person seems to be being served by others, on closer scrutiny he is actually serving them. If, for example, a leader does not serve the people nicely, they will eventually remove him.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the mood of a perfect devotee, identified Himself as dasa-dasanudasah, "the most obedient servant of the servant of the servant" of the Lord. Devotees of Lord Krsna try to follow in Lord Caitanya's footsteps by developing such a humble attitude.

Prabhu means "master, chief, king" and ultimately the supreme master, Krsna. When we meet devotees, we can address them as Prabhu, feeling ourselves their obedient servant. If we are addressed as Prabhu, we need to remember that we are not a Prabhu but a Dasa. Srila Prabhupada taught that a devotee never wants to dominate others, by expecting others to serve him or by trying to force others to do things his way. Rather, he always remains a humble servant, ever open to suggestions.

Regularly using these little words—Prabhu and Dasa—can help us remember that we are not lords of all we survey. Lord Caitanya said that one who is as humble as straw in the street, as tolerant as a tree, and who offers all respect to others, without seeking respect and praise for himself, can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.

Rohininandana Dasa lives in southern England with his wife and their three children. Write to him in care of Back to Godhead.

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With Krsna Among the Arabs

In the 1980s, devotees of Krsna
in Israel were surprised to find
many Arabs eager to learn
about Krsna consciousness.

By Dhira Govinda Dasa

THOUGH I'D BEEN SPREADING Krsna consciousness in Israel for several years, I'd rarely set foot in an Arab village. Now, in white devotee robes, I stood in the center of Rama, a small Arab village nestled neatly in the foothills of the Upper Galilee. Wheeling a cart of Srila Prabhupada's books, I entered a store, and the owner advised, "You should visit Salach."

Following the store owner's directions, I climbed a long, steep mountain road. Nearing the top, gasping for breath, I looked up to see a young man smiling at me from his doorway. He seemed overjoyed. He introduced himself as Salach and invited me into his living room.

As I gathered myself, Salach pressed the play button on an old tape recorder. I could only smile dumbly as strains of Srila Prabhupada's singing filled the room. Then he related to me a recent dream he'd had, wherein Prabhupada was sitting in an abandoned house in Rama, and the residents were coming and worshiping him with flowers.

At First, Resistance

For many years devotees had presented Krsna consciousness to Israel's Jewish population, most of whom are non-religious. While many of these secular Jews were curious about Krsna consciousness and treated the devotees respectfully, the devotee's attempts to spread Krsna consciousness usually met with resistance and hostility. Devotees had to distribute books undercover, and only rarely would someone be interested to take a full set. As for religious Jews, devotees soon found it best to keep as much distance from them as possible. Once, while devotees were chanting on a street in Jerusalem in the early 1980s, some religious Jews attacked and beat them, stopping only when police intervened.

Try the Arabs?

Devotees considered Arab villages dangerous and generally didn't visit them. But through the years there were indications of the potential for giving these people Krsna consciousness. Our hari-namas (public chanting sessions) were always ecstatic, and sometimes nuns from local convents would join us. My wife, Maha-Laksmi Dasi, relates an experience:

We had just printed a five-book set, and we were distributing it in Nazareth. We parked the car in the Muslim section. Almost no one was in the street, but I took the set in my arms and stepped out of the car. A car came by, and the driver asked, "What are these books?" I showed him pictures. I said that the books are not only beautiful but they explain that the most important thing in life is ... "to love God," he said. And he took the whole set.

Salach is a member of the Druze, a group considered an unorthodox sect of Islam. My encounter with him marked the beginning of an extraordinary relationship between the Druze and Krsna's devotees, a relationship especially characterized by the Druze's fascination with Srila Prabhupada's books. All sectors of their society quickly became eager to read the books. Santasya Dasi describes a typical day for a devotee in a Druze village:

The shop manager was very curious about reincarnation and took a set. Then someone entered and asked what the books were about. And on the spot he asked if he could also order a set. When I told him he could have the books now, he replied, "Then I'm fortunate!"
We went back to the car to load sets and proceeded to the school. We took a bus because the school was on top of a mountain. The bus driver found the set interesting. On entering the school, he showed us the principal's room. A meeting was in progress, but they invited us in and were really captivated by the books. The principal took two sets, one for himself and one for the school. His secretary took another. Then the bus driver entered and saw everyone writing checks, so he insisted on a set for himself.

Druze Philosophy

Although unbeknown to the devotees at first, Druze philosophy and culture provided a favorable framework for the Druze's receptivity to Vedic literature. Druze roots are firmly situated in the Vedic tradition. Their histories are cyclical and date back hundreds of millions of years, with descriptions of incarnations of God in a human form appearing at regular intervals. This corresponds to Vedic literature and contrasts the traditions of Mideast religions. The term Druze is a misnomer, given by the Muslims, similar to the Muslim creation of the name Hindu. Druze refer to themselves as muwahidoon, "the one, eternal religion," or in Vedic terminology, Sanatana-dharma.

A major tenet of Druze faith is the transmigration of the soul. Many of them claim to remember past lives. Once, after Nagapatni Dasi presented Krsna consciousness and a set of books to an elderly Druze sheik, he declared, "You don't love Krsna like I love Krsna." He went on to relate his memory of a previous life in the Himalayas. Late in 1990, when we were living in the predominantly Druze village of Osafia, Maha-Laksmi was in great anxiety, with a two-month-old baby and Sadaam Hussein threatening to bomb Israel. Ola, a seventeen-year-old Druze girl, consoled her. "Don't worry," Ola said. "We leave this body, and we go to another one."

Attracted to the Books

Kamal Jumbalat, a modern Druze political, intellectual, and spiritual leader assassinated in Lebanon, had profound admiration for Indian culture. He visited India several times and was a strict vegetarian. His writings extol Krsna, the Bhagavad-gita, and the Ramayana. Jumbalat's picture hangs on the walls of almost all Druze homes.

Another portrait found in most Druze households is that of Sheik Tarif Amin. Until his death a few years ago, Sheik Amin was the world religious leader for all Druze. He met with devotees on many occasions and always expressed great appreciation for Vedic culture and Srila Prabhupada's books. At one meeting the Sheik said he wanted the Druze people and the Hare Krsna movement to work together as one race. Considering that the Druze are known for being insulated and secretive, this is an extraordinary statement.

Salman Falach, Druze minister of education in Israel, bought full sets of books for all Druze schools and libraries. Many of these institutions bought more sets. For his personal library, Salman acquired all of Srila Prabhupada's books in English. After seeing the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Mr. Falach said, "I think that after reading these books I will discover that our religion is coming from them."

Month after month, the Druze placed hundreds of sets of books in their homes. Many Druze concluded that Srila Prabhupada's books are part of their own scriptures. They read the books with devotion and sincerity.

Once, while struggling in the hot, dusty streets of Bukatha, a Druze village in the Golan Heights, I met the elderly wife of a sheik at the door of her home. We could hardly communicate, because she spoke no Hebrew or English and I spoke no Arabic. Still, she was attracted to the Arabic Gita and took a copy. As I thanked her and started to leave, the venerable sheik returned. He smiled at me but appeared doubtful about his wife's decision to buy the book. After encouraging them both to read the Gita, I departed.

About half an hour later I passed the back window of the sheik's house on my way to a different part of Bukatha. I faintly heard an old man reciting an invocation verse of the Gita in broken language:

sthapitam yena bhu-tale
svayam rupah kada mahyam
dadati sva-padantikam

I couldn't resist peeking in the window. The sheik sat with his eyes intently gazing at the pages of the Gita, and his wife sat across from him, transfixed on the sound of the mantras. A shudder ran through my body, and I moved on.

About two hours later I was returning to the car for lunch, and as I passed the window I heard, from the Introduction, kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah prapadyante 'nya-devatah ... in choppy Druze Sanskrit. Stunned, I looked in the window. The couple was in the same position, studying the Bhagavad-gita together. More than an hour later I again walked past the old couple's home, and their positions were unchanged. The man had reached the first verse and was reading the translation about Dhrtarastra, Sanjaya, and Kuruksetra.

Often, when speaking with Druze, devotees would begin to refer to a verse from Bhagavad-gita, and the Druze would complete the verse and explain its context and meaning. Once, during a public program in Rama, after Jayadvaita Swami had given a talk on the basic philosophy of Krsna consciousness, a young Druze, displaying his detailed knowledge of the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, asked "Why did Bhisma fight with Krsna if Krsna is his worshipful Lord?"

Welcoming Devotees

Srila Prabhupada's books sparked many villages to invite devotees to give presentations to their community. The people of Beit Jann, a village located above Rama on the same mountain range, invited us to address their high school. About fifty people, ages eight to forty, attended. During kirtana they chanted and clapped ecstatically, and then they enthusiastically accepted prasadam. The conversation was so lively and captivating that the school guard had to ring the bell many times to bring the meeting to a close.

Afterwards, Druze surrounded devotees in the parking lot, excitedly inquiring about Krsna conscious philosophy. A thirteen-year-old boy holding a soccer ball approached Maha-Laksmi. He had written down some questions. Through a translator, he asked about the process by which the soul carries conceptions from one body to another, and then he asked how God could be present everywhere if He is also a localized person.

We were regularly amazed at the depth and genuineness of the Druze in their appreciation of Krsna consciousness. Not only were they reading the books, but they were applying the teachings and were eager for the association of devotees.

God has distributed various holy names because people vary in their desires. "Krsna" and the names describing God's pastimes and personal relationships are His most intimate holy names, and the Druze were attracted to chanting them.

Once, going door-to-door I met a school manager who had received a set of books and japa (chanting) beads a year earlier. He said that whenever he feels anxiety he chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra on the beads and feels immediate relief. On another occasion, in the village of Daliyat el Carmel, a Druze farmer opened the door. Though he had never met a devotee, he was happy to see me. He became excited and told me he and his family chanted Hare Krsna every day. Then he sang a familiar Hare Krsna tune. Somehow they had obtained the books and adopted the principles of Krsna consciousness.

Late in 1989, shortly after we'd moved to Rama, during a program at our temple I asked some guests what they knew about Krsna consciousness. Rezek, a simple construction worker living at the top of the village, matter-of-factly and very humbly said that he read Srila Prabhupada's books every day, followed the four regulative principles, and chanted eight to sixteen rounds of japa daily. Then I remembered having distributed a set to Rezek the previous winter. I hadn't been in touch with him since, but through the books and other aspiring Druze devotees in his village, he had adopted the process of bhakti-yoga. I began to imagine how many others like Rezek there might be in Druze villages.

Druze Culture

We were constantly impressed by the cultural dignity of the Druze. They were unfailingly hospitable, respectful, and chaste. A long black or dark blue dress, covered with a white apron reaching almost to the feet, is the basic attire of the religious Druze woman. A white cloth covers her head, and a long diaphanous white veil is used to cover the mouth. One day Sheikha, our neighbor in Rama, who has more than twenty grandchildren, was playing with our new baby, Sita. Maha-Laksmi took a photograph. This was a mistake, because Sheikha did not have her head covered. It would be a great embarrassment for her to be photographed with her head uncovered, though she was an elderly woman. Maha-Laksmi promised to tear up the photo. If a Druze man knocked on our door and Maha-Laksmi answered, he would take three steps back, as is their etiquette.

During my father's visit from the United States, he took a stroll in Osafia, a Druze village where we lived in late 1990. Ferro Kais, a professor at Haifa University, noticed Jules and insisted that he come into his home, where he fed him sumptuously and established a warm relationship. Jules commented that after many years he wouldn't develop as close a relationship with his nearest neighbors in the comfortable apartment complex where he resides in suburban Philadelphia.

We found that all Arab groups highly value hospitality and traditional customs. Once, a young Christian man living at the top of Pekiin invited Maha-Laksmi and me into his home. Lying on the couch was a dying old man. We discussed spiritual topics with the two men and were impressed with the way the family cared for their elderly member. They did not try to hide him. Old age and death were accepted as inevitable aspects of life in this world. In such a culture, the ultimate importance of spiritual life was apparent.

Among the Muslims

Mainstream, and even extreme, Muslims were also receptive to Krsna consciousness, and devotees frequently visited their villages. Practically all schools and libraries in the Muslim villages of Israel took sets of Prabhupada's books, as did many of the intellectuals, who accepted the literature as an authentic and scholarly presentation of an honorable culture. Most Muslims accepted the commonalty of basic ideas, such as the greatness of God as the supreme controller, and the spiritual equality of all beings.

In a report to the World Sankirtana Newsletter, Maha-Laksmi, born an Israeli Jew, shared some experiences in Uhm El Fahm, a devoutly religious, and sometimes politically agitated, village in northern Israel:

I think they were really shocked, as Jewish, Israeli feet just don't step in their village, and what to speak of our Indian dress. We were referred to some offices, where we met a nice man who said he would definitely take the books if they were in English. He had a version of the Bhagavad-gita at home and said that in his opinion the Vedas are superior to the Koran. The next person we met was interested in the Mahabharata.
Then we were referred to the manager of the high school, Mr. Jamil Mahajna. We went to his house, and his wife invited us in. He was resting, being weak from the Ramadan fast. He was excited to meet us, and we began a long conversation, or more precisely he preached to us very strongly about Islam. We didn't argue with him but stressed that the common goal of all bona fide religions is love of God. Eventually he decided to place the books in his house, but his wife protested, "Haram!" ["Abominable!"] She said that they would be ostracized from the village, because the books were against the Koran. Somehow he held his ground, and the visit ended with us all having a Hare Krsna kirtana.

The people of Kabul, a Muslim village in the heart of the Galilee, asked the devotees to do a program for their village. Village leaders reserved a large room in the high school, and it was filled with leading spiritual and intellectual members of the community, including many teachers and a few sheiks with their distinctive headdresses. The crowd appreciated the kirtana, as many of them were accustomed to chant the ninety-nine names of God in the Arabic language on a string of beads they carry with them, much as devotees of Krsna chant on japa beads. They showed keen interest in the Vedic literature, and in topics such as yoga, mystic powers, the regulative principles of spiritual life, and God as the center of all endeavor.

Because of their piety, many Muslims realized that Krsna consciousness is transcendental to mundane politics and nationality. Practically every Muslim we encountered was inherently pious, though some had fallen into materialism.

Once, in a mostly Arabic industrial section of Haifa, I entered the garage of a Muslim car mechanic. He was attracted to the godly nature of the books, but when he saw the pictures, he objected, "We do not worship form."

I noticed on a wall all sorts of forms—women from magazines. I pointed to them and said, "You are worshiping so many forms."

He became embarrassed and said he wanted to read Prabhupada's books.

Staunchly religious Muslims also took an interest in Krsna consciousness. One evening in the Muslim village of Sakhnin, a devout Muslim school teacher invited me into his home. Dressed in a long gray robe, he listened while I explained the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita. Then he gave an extensive explanation of the Koran. I told him Prabhupada said that Muslim means to be completely honest by submitting oneself to Allah. The teacher was enlivened by the conversation and resolved to study the Gita.

One morning some devotees presented books to teachers in a school in the Muslim village of Judeida. A religious teacher examined the Arabic Gita and protested, "I have something against this book!" The devotees thought, "Oh no, now he'll say its against the Koran." But his only objection was that the Arabic book didn't have the Sanskrit like the Hebrew books he'd bought a few months before. He had been reading them and trying to learn Sanskrit.

Islamic Sects

Devotees came across many Islamic sects, including the Sufis, Charcese, Aloines, Bedouins, and Achmadiyas, each unique and exciting. In Kababir, the Achmadiya section of Haifa, I approached the head sheik just after he'd conducted a service in the mosque. In his flowing black silken robes and elegant turban, he observed me in my dhoti and kurta. As I drew near, he melodiously chanted a verse from Bhagavad-gita (4.7):

yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham

(Translation: "Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.") The sheik, Mohammed Hamid, had been sent from India, the land where Achmed had appeared and the home of the Achmadiyas, to conduct a mission in Haifa. On his bookshelf were many Sanskrit books and other books of Indian philosophy, including an original Arabic printing, from 1972, of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is.

In May 1989, Isvara Krsna Dasa, Paramguru Dasa, and I visited Bedouin villages in the Negev, some of which were simply the huts and tents of a few scattered families who had settled for the time in the same general area of the desert. We visited several families in their dwellings, requiring us to drive away from anything that could be called a road, or even a path, and into the expanse of the rough, sandy terrain of the northern Negev. Each Bedouin family was surprised to receive such visitors, but they all graciously welcomed us into their homes and gladly discussed spiritual topics.

Millions of Aloines populate Syria, though in Israel they inhabit only one village, Ajar, located in the Golan Heights on the Lebanese border. After passing through a military blockade, I entered Ajar and visited homes. Though they prefer to keep it secret, the Aloines believe in reincarnation, and almost everyone I met took a copy of Coming Back (a book about reincarnation), and many took an Arabic Gita.

Materially, the devotees who visited these villages were Jewish, and either Israeli or American. Many people could hardly believe we would approach such places. Once I was struggling up a steep hill with my book cart in the Muslim village of Tamra. A police car patrolling the village stopped, and the officers inside looked at me in disbelief. Both officers were Jewish. They asked for my identification. After checking everything to their satisfaction, they asked what I was doing there. I showed them the books and explained my mission. They told me I should leave. It wasn't a command, and I wasn't breaking any law, but they were worried and said I'd surely be killed if I stayed. Though I appreciated their concern, I explained that I routinely came to these villages and did this. They were shocked. They wished me good luck and drove away.

Toward evening of the same day, I was on one of Tamra's small side streets, trying to find a school principal, when a man in his thirties with a huge bloody knife walked toward me. He was a butcher, as was evident from his bloodied white smock. He wasn't too friendly and asked what I was doing in the village. For a moment I became aware that I was standing alone in the village of Tamra, two inches away from a suspicious Muslim butcher holding a sharp knife dripping with blood. Though this sort of thing had practically become an everyday affair, I realized that a wrong word, expression, or tone of voice could make me headlines in tomorrow's paper. I carefully gave him the name of the administrator I was trying to find, and the butcher gave me directions.

This was also during the peak of the Intifada uprising, and the book Satanic Verses, written by an Indian Muslim and considered blasphemous by orthodox Muslims, was rousing the anger of the Muslim world, especially toward things Indian. And opposition to Western influence was rising. Still, despite these material odds, Jewish devotees from Israel and America entered Muslim villages, presented Vedic literature, and developed meaningful relationships. For us, this was clear evidence that Krsna consciousness and Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement are beyond any material considerations.

Dhira Govinda Dasa is the author of Krsna, Israel and the Druze. He lives in Alachua, Florida, where he works as a clinical social worker for the state and serves on the board of directors for the ISKCON community. He has received a fellowship from Florida State University to pursue a Ph.D. in social work.

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Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out

Rascals Think, "I Can Deceive God."

Here we conclude an exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some disciples that took place in Mayapur, India, on January 16, 1976.

Srila Prabhupada: These modern so-called scientists have much in common with Hiranyakasipu—such a big demon. His only idea was, "The devatas, the demigods—they prevail over us sometimes. But now I shall attack them and prevail over them. And because I am now virtually immortal, what can they do? They cannot kill me. So I will go on with my demonic activities, and they will not be able to do anything."

Hiranyakasipu did not know that by trying to achieve immortality for his material body, he was exhibiting the greatest foolishness.

When Brahma, Krsna's first created being in the universe, told Hiranyakasipu, "No, no, it is not possible," still Hiranyakasipu expected, "Yes, somehow I shall become immortal."

Lord Brahma flatly said, "No, no, this is not possible. I myself am not immortal. How can I give you immortality?"

But Hiranyakasipu would not hear even Lord Brahma. He thought, "In a roundabout way I shall befool this man Brahma."

Hiranyakasipu said, "All right, sir, then give me this benediction."

"What is that?"

"I'll not die on the land."

"All right."

"Nor shall I die in the water."


"Nor in the air."


So Hiranyakasipu thought, "All three realms are eliminated. So where can I die? After all, there are only three realms—land, water, air. And Brahma has given me the benediction that I shall not die anywhere within these three. So I have cheated Brahma."

And then Hiranyakasipu continued, "Grant that I shall not die in the daytime."


"Grant that I shall not die in the nighttime."


But by nature's arrangement, there is still another interval of time—between day and night. [Laughing.] Hiranyakasipu forgot that. That interval of time is called sandhya. That is accepted in the Vedas. But Hiranyakasipu forgot that. Krsna is more intelligent than any of His creatures. So Hiranyakasipu was not killed in the daytime or the nighttime. He was killed in the sandhya, the interval between daytime and nighttime.

And as for land, sky, and water, that matter, also, was adjusted with tricks—Krsna killed Hiranyakasipu on His lap. You cannot say that one's lap is land; you cannot say it is sky; you cannot say it is water.

So Krsna is so kind that because His devotee Brahma had given Hiranyakasipu all these benedictions, Krsna would kill Hiranyakasipu without touching all those points conceded by Brahma. In this way, Hiranyakasipu could not accuse Brahma that "Sir, you have cheated me."

"No," Brahma would be able to reply. "Whatever you wanted I have given you. You have cheated yourself. You did not know that your knowledge of the cosmic situation was imperfect. Nor could you make it perfect. So, that was your folly. Whatever you wanted, I said, 'Yes, yes, yes.' At the same time I added, 'In spite all of this, you cannot become immortal.' After all, that is not possible.

"But you—you fool—did not heed my warning. So despite your cunning, you remained a fool. You thought you were very intelligent, very cunning: 'I am now fully equipped. Nobody can kill me.' "

Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, it seems Hiranyakasipu was acting much like a modern lawyer. He was trying like anything to find loopholes in the law.

Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes. A big lawyer is simply someone who is very expert at finding and exploiting weaknesses in the present law. That is the definition of a big lawyer.

Actually, these modern leaders are acting like big lawyers—trying to be more intelligent than Krsna and His law. [Laughs.] These rascals are trying to be more intelligent. Therefore they are called mudhas—rascals and fools.

Disciple: Moghasa.

Srila Prabhupada: Ah. Moghasa mogha-karmano mogha-jnana vicetasah. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna confirms, "Every atheistic rascal will see all his hopes, all his activities, all his so-called knowledge come to nothing. Such a rascal will be utterly baffled."

To begin with, Krsna asks such a simple thing: "You just surrender unto Me. You'll get all protection."

But the rascal says, "No, no. That is not possible. I must act according to my own whims. Why shall I surrender?"

"All right. Go on," Krsna says at last. "I'll give you all facility for executing your whims. You'll get it. You do whatever you like. Try your best."

This is going on. Krsna is giving good advice. But unfortunately, the rascal will not accept it. So Krsna is so kind that He says, "All right. You act in your own way. I shall give you all facility." That facility is Maya, the Lord's illusory energy. When the soul desires to leave the spiritual world, Maya gives him this material world and a materially affected mind by which he can try to lord it over. Actually, Maya gives him that mind so that she can punish him very severely.

So anyway, Maya has given us a clever, materially affected mind. "All right. Now you go on desiring illusory material enjoyment. You go on desiring and desiring, and I will give you facility."

Disciple: So our seemingly clever mind is really an agent of punishment.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. This material mind is just that. For instance, when you see a madman, you see he is not mindless. No. He has a mind. But that mind is polluted. That is why he is acting abnormally. His mind is there, but it is covered by some infection. Therefore, one moment a madman is thinking this way, the next moment that way, then again this way, and so on. That's all.

Disciple: Constant anxiety.

Srila Prabhupada: Useless. Killing himself.

Disciple: Sometimes, Srila Prabhupada, a person who goes mad has to be put into a padded cell, so that he doesn't harm himself.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Otherwise he will create danger for others. Similarly, this whole material world is a "padded cell" for those who have left the spiritual world. They must be kept within this padded cell, so that they can go on with their madness of mind without disturbing the sane and peaceful residents of the spiritual world.

Still, Krsna has kindly left the Vedic literature here, with instructions that "If you act this or that way, then you can promote yourself to this or that higher material planet. And yanti mad-yajino 'pi mam—if you act in devotional service, you can come to Me." But the soul who has gone mad will not take that instruction.

Disciple: Coming to Krsna means he'll have to give up all his mad desires.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but all the instructions are there for escaping this material world and going home to Krsna's blissful abode. All the instructions are there. We simply have to accept them. If we don't accept them, we suffer. What can be done? If you accept the path leading to hell, in spite of higher authorities' instructions, then who can save you? That is going on.

Disciple: Rascals.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. A rascal is thinking he has become so very intelligent that he can deceive God, deceive the spiritual master, and be happy. He does not know that he can neither deceive God nor deceive His representative, the guru. That is not possible. But he is thinking like that, even though he is being put into one suffering condition after another. For instance, an ordinary thief or rogue thinks, "I am deceiving the government," even though the government has got so many agents that sooner or later he will be arrested. Of course, this sinful modern government may not be so expert, but how can some rascal deceive the government of Krsna? That is not possible.

Disciple: Krsna's undercover agents are everywhere.

Srila Prabhupada: Everywhere, in every direction. They are bearing witness. And isvarah sarva-bhutanam—Krsna is sitting within the heart of everyone. How can you deceive Him?

Disciple: Krsna knows more about what's going on than we do.

Srila Prabhupada: Anumanta upadrasta. Ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata. Krsna is sitting within everyone's heart as the witness and permitter. So how can these rascals think, "I can deceive God"?

Disciple: Mayayapahrta-jnana. Vigata-jnana.

Srila Prabhupada: Hmm. Vigata-jnana, yes. Their knowledge is stolen by illusion.

Disciple: Like children playing, they think that they've become a king or this or that, and they're completely absorbed in that illusion.

Srila Prabhupada: Why "children playing"? In this age the father and mother are also playing.

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Spiritual Places

A Prophecy Unfolds in Brazil

Devotees at Nova Gokula are demonstrating
how man can co-exist with nature and
prosper while conserving natural resources.

By Kalakantha Dasa

ACCEPTING KRSNA consciousness as the goal of life, a devotee saves time for Krsna's service by living simply. And what could be more simple than cultivating one's own fertile piece of land and living off nature's bounty?

Living off the land can be challenging. Yet Srila Prabhupada envisioned Krsna consciousness covering the world through the example of self-sufficient Krsna conscious farms. That may sound far-fetched, but just thirty years ago no one believed Srila Prabhupada's vision of Krsna temples and schools all over the world and millions of Krsna conscious books in every major language. Now all that has happened. What's happening with the farms?

Devotees in ISKCON's dozens of worldwide farm projects have taken steps, great and small, toward independence from modern society and dependence on nature and the land. They harness ox power, they protect cows and enjoy their milk, and they use dung for fuel and fertilizer. They grow grains, vegetables, and other useful crops. They build houses and temples. They rise early, chant Hare Krsna, and educate their children in Krsna conscious schools.

Sounds good—but it's a long way from self-sufficiency. Most ISKCON farms rely on electricity from "the grid." Extra food comes from the supermarket, building supplies from the lumber yard. Cars get a lot more miles than ox carts. And the general medium of exchange is cash, not crops.

Government Help in Brazil

In their struggle toward self-sufficiency, devotees in ISKCON's Nova Gokula farm in Brazil are receiving support from an unexpected source: the Brazilian government. By Krsna's arrangement Nova ("new" in Portuguese) Gokula (the rural village of Lord Krsna's youth) lies right in the heart of one of the world's ecological hot spots. As a result, a lot of influential people suddenly have a pressing interest in the success of Nova Gokula as an ideal self-sufficient community.

In 1978 devotees founded Nova Gokula in Brazil's Atlantic rain forest, about two hours from San Paulo. Coffee barons, coal producers, and cattle ranchers had deforested the land. Gradually the devotee farmers began to fill in the stripped landscape with crops, fruit trees, and wonderfully landscaped meditation gardens. They built schools, a guest house, a barn for the cows, simple homes, and at the heart of the community, a beautiful temple for Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda. More than 230 devotees now live in Nova Gokula.

Meanwhile, worldwide concern was growing over the destruction of the Brazilian rain forest. Finally, in 1985, the Brazilian government passed laws creating a forest preserve in part of the only remaining five percent of the primal Atlantic rain forest—the very site surrounding Nova Gokula. Their main incentive: sweet, fresh water, a commodity the U.N. predicts will dominate twenty-first-century politics instead of oil.

Lord Krsna has blessed Nova Gokula with abundant, excellent water. In addition to thirty-six pure springs that dot the landscape, the rushing Yamuna (renamed by the devotees after the holy river of the original Gokula) splashes over large rocks as it winds through Nova Gokula to the nearby Paraiba River. The devotees swim and bathe in the cool, clear Yamuna waters, chemically more pure than water you might buy in a grocery store.

The Paraiba serves Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil's two largest cities, as well as the country's industrial heartland. So polluted is the Paraiba that the town of Pindamonhangabha, about twenty-five kilometers from Nova Gokula, faces a serious threat to its future water supply. Through research the Brazilian government has determined that the Yamuna will be an important source of fresh water for Pindamonhangabha. They also discovered that to protect the water, the surrounding forests must be returned to their condition prior to modern man's pillaging.

Developing the Plan

Nova Gokula resident Rupa Gosvami Dasa proposes restoring the forest in harmony with a self-sustaining agrarian community. The community will demonstrate how man can co-exist with nature and prosper while conserving natural resources. Taking interest in Rupa Gosvami Dasa's unique proposition, thirty-five highly trained representatives from a variety of governmental and private organizations attended a recent conference in Nova Gokula. They proposed various components for a master plan for Nova Gokula, including:

• Fire brigade equipment to control brush fires (still started by local cattle ranchers)
• Training for development of special bee hives for producing honey and other bee products
• Training for cultivating and harvesting medicinal plants, including those used for Ayurvedic treatments
• Information on producing palm heart, a highly prized food product
• Training for extracting oils from tropical seeds
• Tens of thousands of native seedlings, and skilled advice on their planting and care
• Help improving the local access road
• Help for leveling portions of the hilly land for improved cultivation and future construction (just as the Lord's incarnation Prthu Maharaja leveled the earth, Rupa Gosvami Dasa points out)
• Help creating a special zoo for reorienting to their native environment valuable animals recovered from poachers
• Advice for growing crops to be used for feeding a family or for commerce and trade
• Assistance in developing cottage industries and ecotourism for economic development.

The government provided funds for the development of this plan. Recently unveiled at the fourth annual Brazilian forestry convention, the Nova Gokula plan stands alone among hundreds of reforestation projects for a simple reason: it's the only one involving a community living in harmony with the forest. Rupa Gosvami Dasa credits Srila Prabhupada with the inspiration and vision that has now captured the interest of many Brazilian scientists and officials.

Srila Prabhupada: World's Greatest Ecologist

Among his many other gifts, Srila Prabhupada also endowed the world with the model of Vedic village life. It's more than tree-hugging; Prabhupada taught not only how to live off the land in a harmonious, sustainable way, but why it makes perfect sense for anyone to do so. Isavasya, or a God-centered way of life, forms the foundation of any truly sustainable, ecologically balanced way of life.

Elaborating on this theme, Srila Prabhupada's disciple Ranchor Dasa explains the Vedic model in his book Hinduism and Ecology: Seeds of Truth. Each householder, he writes, surrounds his house with local fruit and nut trees. This mini-forest, called Srivana, helps sustain the family. Surrounding the Srivana is Tapavana, named for austerity. Here one finds knowledge in the form of renounced saints and their schools and asramas. Passing through Tapavana one enters the greater forest, or Mahavana. Local people understand the Mahavana to be an uninhabited area set aside as the domain of local plants and animals. Nova Gokula's reforestation plan will follow this concept.

The government's support of Nova Gokula's master plan is not its first assistance for the devotees. Local authorities provided $50,000 to help construct the Varnasrama College, the Nova Gokula school for older boys. Neighbors are also urging their leaders to make the temple gurukula the official public school for the local area. Some of their children have attended academic classes at the gurukula day school with wonderful results.

"My son was always unhappy at the other school," one father said. "When he comes home from this school, he is glowing."

A large gurukula school is included in the Nova Gokula master plan.

Funding the entire Nova Gokula master plan development will cost a substantial amount of money, but Rupa Gosvami Dasa is confident.

"Some of Brazil's top ecologists see our plan as the most practical hope for man and nature to survive cooperatively. This land is among the most biodiverse on earth, with as many as 460 native species found on each hectare. India's Vedic heritage, as presented by Srila Prabhupada, is a proven alternative to Brazil's historical destruction of its forests. The Manu Samhita has perhaps the oldest written admonition against water pollution. So bringing Krsna consciousness to the Brazilian rain forest is a positive and natural step for everyone."

Kalakantha Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada since 1972, helps ISKCON temples build congregations. He lives with his family in Gainesville, Florida.

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Living Off the Land in Krsna Consciousness

Jivoddharana Dasa has a degree in sustainable farming methods. After joining Iskcon in 1980, he served in both city and farm temples for more than a decade before moving to Nova Gokula in 1993. Determined to farm in Krsna consciousness, he and his wife, Ekamurti Devi Dasi, set about building a house in the Vedic Village section of Nova Gokula. Their materials: mud, cow dung, and local wood, some milled at a nearby lumber yard. Jivoddharana bought the roof tiles, although he says, given more time, he could have made them. As it was, it took the couple six months to complete the tidy three-bedroom house at a cost of $1,000.

Jivoddharana found his five acres of Nova Gokula land to be "very tired," but renewable with composting, terraced plowing, and organic recycling. He and his wife now produce enough fruits, grains, and vegetables to completely feed twelve families. They also partially feed several other families, in addition to many guests to Krsna's temple. Still, they sometimes have to plow good produce back into the ground because there's simply not enough time or extra help to pick it all. Jivoddharana's produce business supports his family and allows him enough extra to care for several retired cows.

Their garden is neat, large, and lush. It's spring, so the winter crops of lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are giving way to beans, squash, corn, and rice. Orange, papaya, and banana trees surround their home. A banana plantation fills a terraced hillside leading to a large rice paddy.

"I feel very enthusiastic about farming for Krsna," Jivoddharana says. "Whenever guests come, which is often, I can sit and talk with them. If no guests come, I just work in the garden all day."

Because most of the Nova Gokula devotees are engaged in other ways, Ekamurti Dasi, a city girl, sometimes finds herself a little lonely.

"Vedic Village is like Vrndavana. The rest of Nova Gokula is like Dvaraka," she jokes, referring to the rural and urban settings of Lord Krsna's pastimes.

Still, she relishes many realizations of Srila Prabhupada's teachings.

"You begin to see the Supersoul, even in an ant."

Living As Krsna Lived

Rupa Gosvami Dasa summarizes Srila Prabhupada's teachings on rural communities:

Rural communities are meant for cultivating Krsna consciousness. Devotees should lead a simple, self-sufficient life, totally independent of materialistic civilization. The way of life to follow is that of Krsna in Vrndavana.

Self-sufficiency comes from protecting cows, bulls, and oxen, and from the ecological cultivation of land. Self-sufficiency should be total: food clothing, medicine, construction materials, and so on.

Each devotee needs to work 120 days a year to guarantee the community's self sufficiency. The remaining time is for Krsna conscious programs.

Work should be accomplished without having to travel great distances. Commercial agriculture is not encouraged. If there is surplus production without additional effort, then sell or distribute as prasadam.

Devotees should travel in ox carts for ten miles in all directions, bringing neighbors books, prasadam, and the holy name.

Machinery and electricity are not necessary, but may be used if they don't demand a big effort for their acquisition and maintenance.

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The City of Nine Gates

An allegory from the
Srimad-Bhagavatam sheds
light on the mind/body connection.

By Drutakarma Dasa

This article was originally presented at "Toward a Science of Consciousness," an international conference attended by leading scientists, physicians, philosophers, and other scholars, and hosted by the University of Arizona in Tucson, April 1996.

Is There A Conscious Self distinct from the physical mechanism of the body? Is there a mind distinct from the brain? Those who answer yes to such questions are called dualists, and they are rare in contemporary science and philosophy.

Dualistic solutions to the mind/body problem are perhaps hampered by, among other things, inadequate analogies and allegories on the topic in Western thought. Whether we turn to Plato's cave, to the formulations of Descartes, or to the proverbial little green man in the brain, there is apparently not enough substance to inspire the modern researcher of consciousness to seriously consider dualism. But if we turn to chapters 25-29 of Canto Four in the Bhagavata Purana, or Srimad-Bhagavatam, a Sanskrit text from India, we'll find the elaborate allegory of the City of Nine Gates. The sophistication of this allegory challenges modern researchers to take a second look at dualism.

The central character in the allegory is a king named Puranjana. The Sanskrit word puran-jana means "one who enjoys in a body." So the king's name hints at soul/body dualism. King Puranjana originally existed as a spirit soul in a purely spiritual realm in relationship with a supreme conscious being, God.

Materialists may oppose the introduction of this transcendental realm, which exists outside the material universe knowable by science. But even the materialist cosmology of modern science incorporates a "transcendental" realm, that is to say, a realm that exists beyond the universe knowable by science, and from which that universe emerged at the time of the Big Bang. This transcendental reality, existing beyond time, space, and matter, is called the quantum mechanical vacuum and is pictured as a pure energy field in which particles appear and instantly disappear. From this sea of virtual particles some expand and continue to exist. According to many cosmologists, our universe is one such expansion.

So both the Bhagavata Purana and the Big Bang cosmology of modern science point to an eternal transcendental existence from which our universe of matter, with its features of time and space, arises. Now, which version of ultimate reality better explains the variegated reality of our experience? Modern cosmologists and other theorists have a great deal of difficulty in coaxing enough variety from the rather smooth and featureless universe that, according to theory, expands from the quantum mechanical vacuum. The origin of consciousness also poses a difficult problem. In light of this, an ultimate reality that is itself conscious and variegated might offer a solution.

Having departed from the spiritual world, by misuse of independence, King Puranjana journeys through the material world, accompanied by Avijnata Sakha ("the unknown friend"). The Unknown Friend corresponds to the Supersoul expansion of God. When Puranjana leaves God and the spiritual world, his memory of them becomes covered. But unknown to Puranjana, God accompanies him on his journey through the material world. According to the Bhagavata Purana, God accompanies all spirit souls in the material world as their Unknown Friend, who observes and sanctions their activities.

In the Western world, mind/brain dualism is identified with French philosopher Rene Descartes, who posited the existence of (1) matter extended in space and (2) mind existing outside space. Cartesian dualism is characterized by an interaction between mind and matter, but explaining how this interaction takes place has proved problematic for advocates of the Cartesian model. For example, how are impressions transmitted from the realm of matter to the completely different realm of mind? Descartes thought the connection between mind and matter occurred in the pineal gland in the brain, an answer most scientists today reject.

According to the Bhagavata Purana, both matter and the souls in the material world are energies of God, and as such both have a single spiritual source. The philosophy of the Bhagavata Purana is thus both dualist and monist simultaneously. The interactions of matter and the soul in the material world are mediated by the Supersoul, who exists inside each material atom and also accompanies each spirit soul. By the arrangement of the Supersoul, impressions of material experience can be channeled to the soul. How this takes place is the subject of the allegory of Puranjana.

Having left the spiritual world, Puranjana, accompanied by Avijnata Sakha (the Supersoul), wanders through the material world. He wants to find a suitable place to enjoy himself. In other words, he searches for a suitable kind of body to inhabit. He tries many kinds of bodies on many planets.

Here we note that each species of life consists of a soul inhabiting a particular kind of body. In this respect, the Bhagavata Purana account differs from that of Descartes, who held that only humans have souls. For Descartes, animals were simply automatons. If one concedes that animals, with all their signs of life and consciousness, are simply automatons, then why not human beings as well? The Bhagavata Purana model avoids this weakness of Descartes's system.

The Attractive city

Eventually Puranjana comes to a place called Nava Dvara Pura, the City of Nine Gates. He finds it quite attractive. The City of Nine Gates represents the male human body, with its nine openings—two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, the mouth, the anus, and the genital opening. As Puranjana wanders through the gardens of the city, he encounters an extremely beautiful woman. Puranjana is attracted to her, and she is attracted to him. She becomes his queen.

Puranjana, as we have seen, represents the conscious self. The beautiful woman represents buddhi, intelligence. According to the philosophy of the Bhagavata Purana, intelligence is a subtle material energy with discriminatory capabilities like those manifested by artificial intelligence machines. The attraction between King Puranjana and the queen (between the conscious self and the intelligence) is the root of embodied consciousness. The king, it should be noted, has distinct conscious selfhood, with nonmaterial sensory capability, but this capability becomes dormant when he begins his relationship with the queen.

The queen (the subtle material element called intelligence) allows Puranjana (the conscious self) to enjoy the City of Nine Gates (the gross physical body). Employing a computer analogy, we might say Puranjana represents the user, the City of Nine Gates the computer hardware, and the queen the software that allows the user to interface with the hardware and use it for practical purposes.

The queen is not alone, however, but is accompanied by eleven bodyguards and a serpent with five heads. The bodyguards comprise the mind and the ten senses. The ten senses are made up of five knowledge-acquiring senses and five working senses. The five knowledge-acquiring senses are the senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. The five working senses are those of walking, grasping, speaking, reproduction, and evacuation. All ten senses are grouped around the mind and are considered servants of the mind. Each of these servants has hundreds of wives. The wives represent desires for material experience, and the senses act under their pressure.

Senses and Sense Organs

According to the philosophy of the Bhagavata Purana, the senses are different from the physical sense organs. The senses, along with mind and intelligence, are part of the invisible subtle material covering of the soul. The physical organs of sensation (eyes, nose, tongue, ears, skin, legs, arms, mouth, anus, and genitals) are part of the visible gross physical body.

The distinction between subtle senses and physical sense organs is important and offers consciousness researchers a valuable conceptual tool. Let us consider, for example, the problem of phantom limbs. Persons whose legs or arms have been amputated often report that they distinctly feel the missing limb, and even experience quite distinct sensations, such as twinges of pain or itching. The City of Nine Gates allegory provides an explanation for this mysterious phenomenon. Let's take the case of someone whose arm has been amputated but who still feels the presence of the arm. The arm is one of the working senses. It is composed of two elements, the subtle grasping sense and the physical organ of the arm and hand. Amputation removes the physical organ through which the subtle sense operates, but the subtle sense itself remains, and therefore its presence may be mentally perceived.

Since the subtle sense is material, it may be able to act upon gross physical matter without going through the related physical sense organ. This model may therefore explain some of the phenomena reported in connection with ghosts and apparitions, and in connection with mediums, particularly the mysterious movement of physical objects. This model may also explain how persons are able to experience sense data during near-death experiences when the physical sense organs are incapacitated because of anesthesia or shock.

The senses are compared to attendants of the queen. They serve her by bringing information and performing activity. Together they comprise the array of material intelligence and sensory capabilities, all formed from subtle but nevertheless material energy. They combinedly manufacture a sense of self, with which the king becomes entranced and falsely identifies.

The body itself, the City of Nine Gates, is made of gross material energy, of the kind that can be manipulated by ordinary physics and chemistry. The body is powered by five subtle airs, listed in the Ayur Veda, the Vedic medical science, as prana, apana, vyana, samana, and udana. In the Puranjana allegory the five airs, comprising the vital force, are represented by a five-headed serpent.

Unknown Origin

In the allegory, Puranjana asks about the identity and origin of the queen and her attendants. The queen replies,

O best of human beings, I do not know who has begotten me. I cannot speak to you perfectly about this. Nor do I know the names or the origins of the associates with me. O great hero, we only know that we are existing in this place. We do not know what will come after. Indeed, we are so foolish that we do not care to understand who has created this beautiful place for our residence.
My dear gentleman, all these men and women with me are known as my friends, and the snake, who always remains awake, protects this city even during my sleeping hours. So much I know. I do not know anything beyond this. You have somehow or other come here. This is certainly a great fortune for me. I wish all auspicious things for you. You have a great desire to satisfy your senses, and all my friends and I shall try our best in all respects to fulfill your desires. I have just arranged this city of nine gates for you so that you can have all kinds of sense gratification. You may live here for one hundred years, and everything for your sense gratification will be supplied.

The king's questioning the queen represents the self's asking material intelligence for the answers to ultimate questions. The answers provided by the queen, as well as her fundamental attitude, reflect those of modern science, which prides itself on avoidance of certain questions and the tentativeness of whatever answers it may provide. "I cannot speak to you perfectly about this. ... We only know that we are existing in this place." Essentially, the queen provides a monist, materialist answer to the king's questions about his situation.

Description of the Gates

The Bhagavata Purana then provides a more detailed description of the nine gates of the city inhabited by the king and queen. Seven gates are on the surface (two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and a mouth), and two gates are subterranean (anus and genitals).

Five gates face east. The first two gates on the eastern side are called Khadyota ("glowworm") and Avirmukhi ("torchlight"). To see, the king exits these two gates and goes to the city called Vibhrajita ("clear vision"). On this journey he is accompanied by his friend Dyuman (the sun, the ruler of the subtle visual sense).

In other words, the king encounters qualia by sensory contact through the physical gates of the body. Qualia are secondary properties of objects, such as color. In consciousness studies, the question of how we perceive qualia is a much debated topic. Do they exist in their own right, in the objects with which they are identified, or do they exist only in our own minds? According to the Bhagavata Purana system, qualia, such as colors, exist as subtle sense objects. They have a reality of their own and are not simply produced within the mind.

That the king goes out through the gates of the eyes to contact subtle sense objects in a city of visual impressions suggests that the seeing process is not simply one of passive reception, but may involve an active process of image acquisition (as in sonar or radar). This may explain such phenomena as traveling clairvoyance, whereby a subject can mentally journey to a particular location, beyond the range of the physical sense organs, and then accurately report visual impressions. This model could also explain visual sensations reported during out-of-body experiences. The exact relationships between the physical sense organs, the subtle senses, and the subtle sense objects are not easily understood, but could perhaps be clarified by experimental work based on the overall model of the City of Nine Gates.

In the eastern part of King Puranjana's city there are, in addition to the eyes, two gates called Nalini and Nalini, representing the nostrils. The king goes through these two gates with a friend called Avadhuta (representing breathing airs) to the town of Saurabha ("odor"). The last gate on the eastern side is Mukhya ("mouth"), through which the king goes with two friends to the towns of taste sensation and nourishment.

Through the two gates on the northern and southern sides (the ears), the king goes to places where different kinds of sound are heard. Through the gates on the western side of the city, the king goes to the towns where sensations of evacuation and sexual pleasure are experienced. During his journeys, the king takes help from two blind men, Nirvak and Pesaskrt, who represent the arms and legs.

Illusory Identification

In all his activities, the king follows the lead of the queen. In other words, the conscious self in the material world becomes conditioned by material intelligence. The Bhagavata Purana says,

When the queen drank liquor, King Puranjana also engaged in drinking. When the queen dined, he used to dine with her, and when she chewed, King Puranjana used to chew along with her.
When the queen sang, he also sang, and when the queen laughed, he also laughed. When the queen talked loosely, he also talked loosely, and when the queen walked, the king walked behind her.
When the queen would stand still, the king would also stand still, and when the queen would lie down in bed, he would also follow and lie down with her.
When the queen sat, he would also sit, and when the queen heard something, he would follow her to hear the same thing.
When the queen saw something, the king would also look at it, and when the queen smelled something, the king would follow her to smell the same thing.
When the queen touched something, the king would also touch it, and when the dear queen was lamenting, the poor king also had to follow her in lamentation. In the same way, when the queen felt enjoyment, he also enjoyed, and when the queen was satisfied, the king also felt satisfaction.

As noted above, an important question that arises concerning dualist solutions to the mind/body question is how a nonmaterial conscious mind interacts with material sense objects. In this model, there is an answer to this question. As seen above, the interaction is based on illusory identification.

To understand the nature of this illusory identification, we first need to readjust the familiar mind/body dualism to a triadic conception incorporating (1) a nonmaterial conscious self, (2) a subtle material body formed of mind and intelligence, and (3) a physical body composed of gross matter.

In this model, the mind is a subtle material substance, associated with material intelligence. Mind is at the center of the subtle senses, which are in turn connected to the physical sense organs, which bring to the mind sense data in the form of subtle sense objects.

Here yet another question arises. In consciousness studies one is faced with the problem of how the various kinds of sense data are presented in an integrated fashion. Even various elements of the visual sense, such as the perception of color, movement, and form, are located in different parts of the brain. Sounds are processed in other parts of the brain. How are all these elements combined?

In the Bhagavata Purana model, the integrating function is performed by the mind, which receives sensory inputs from the subtle senses grouped around it. The mind is not, however, conscious. So the mind might be compared to multimedia computer software capable of integrating audio and visual materials into a single display, making use of a variety of inputs and source materials. The material intelligence, represented by the queen, directs the living entity's consciousness to the integrated display of sense data. Intelligence, as a subtle material energy, is not itself conscious, but it mimics the behavior of consciousness. So the intelligence attracts the attention of the conscious self, causing the self to identify with it, just as we identify with the image of an actor on a movie screen.

By identification with material intelligence, which is in turn connected to the mind's integrated display of sense data, consciousness is connected with the sense data. This connection is not direct. The indirect connection of the conscious self with gross matter arises from the self's false identification with the action of a subtle material energy, intelligence. The extremely subtle material element that connects the conscious self with material intelligence is called ahankara, or false ego. The whole system is set up and directed by the Supersoul.

According to the Bhagavata Purana picture, the conscious self originally experiences nonmaterial sense objects through nonmaterial senses. This takes place in the spiritual world, with God. But having turned from this original situation, the self is placed in a material body in the material world. Identifying with this artificial situation, the self forgets its own nature and that of God. But God remains with the self as the Supersoul, the Unknown Friend. If the self tires of the artificial material reality and desires to return to its original position, the Unknown Friend will reawaken the original spiritual senses of the self and reconnect them with their spiritual sense objects.

The whole system therefore resembles a computer-generated virtual reality. In virtual-reality systems, the user's normal sensory inputs are replaced by computer-generated displays. But just as a person can turn off the virtual-reality display and return to normal sensory experience, so the conscious self in the artificial sensory environment of the material world can return to its original spiritual sensory experience.

Attacked by Time

In the Bhagavata Purana allegory, King Puranjana and his queen enjoy life for some time in the City of Nine Gates. Eventually, however, the City of Nine Gates comes under attack by a king named Candavega. Candavega represents time, and his name literally means "very swiftly passing away." Candavega commands an army of 360 male Gandharva soldiers and their 360 female companions. Together these represent the days and nights of the year. When Candavega's army attacks, the five-headed serpent (the vital force) tries to defend the City of Nine Gates. The serpent fights the attackers for one hundred years but eventually becomes weak, his weakness causing anxiety for the king and his associates. Finally, the attacking soldiers overwhelm the defenders and set the City of Nine Gates ablaze. As it becomes obvious that the battle is being lost, King Puranjana is overcome with anxious thoughts of his wife and his relatives and associates. Then the commander of the invading forces arrests the king and takes him away along with his followers, including the five-headed serpent. As soon as they are gone, the attackers destroy the City of Nine Gates, smashing it to dust. Even as he is being led away, the king cannot remember his Unknown Friend, the Supersoul. Instead, he thinks only of his wife, the queen. He then takes another birth, this time as a woman.

In this part of the allegory, we see how the conscious self, accompanied by the mind, intelligence, and subtle senses, leaves the gross physical body. When they leave, the gross physical body disintegrates. The conscious self then receives another gross physical body. The kind of body received depends on the condition of the subtle material body, composed of mind, intelligence, and subtle senses. The subtle material body is the template upon which the gross physical body is constructed. This model allows one to account for reports of past-life memories. In the Bhagavata Purana model, the mind is the storehouse of memory from past lives.

In his next life, King Puranjana becomes Vaidarbhi, the daughter of King Vidarbha. When grown, Vaidarbhi becomes the queen of King Malayadhvaja. At the end of his life, Malayadhvaja retires to the forest and takes up the process of mystic yoga. The Bhagavata Purana (4.28.40) informs us, "King Malayadhvaja attained perfect knowledge by being able to distinguish the Supersoul from the individual soul. The individual soul is localized, whereas the Supersoul is all-pervasive. He became perfect in knowledge that the material body is not the soul but that the soul is the witness of the material body." In this state of higher awareness, Malayadhvaja, following the yoga process, deliberately leaves his material body and achieves liberation from material existence.

Queen Vaidarbhi (formerly King Puranjana) is overwhelmed with grief at her husband's departure. At this point, King Puranjana's Unknown Friend (the Supersoul) appears before Vaidarbhi as a brahmana sage. The brahmana says to Vaidarbhi, "My dear friend, even though you cannot immediately recognize Me, can't you remember that in the past you had a very intimate friend? Unfortunately, you gave up My company and accepted a position as enjoyer of this material world. ... You were simply captivated in this body of nine gates." The brahmana then instructs Vaidarbhi further about her original position as a purely spiritual self in the spiritual world.

I have extracted only the principal elements of the City of Nine Gates allegory. The complete account is much more detailed and allows one to make an even more subtle and refined model of self/mind/body interaction. This model does not fit easily into present categories of the mind/body debate. Although dualist, it partakes also of idealism and monism. It does, however, allow one to integrate many categories of evidence from normal and paranormal science, as well as evidence from humanity's wisdom traditions, into a rich synthesis, providing fruitful lines of research confirming and refining a complex dualist model of mind/body interaction.

Drutakarma Dasa is a member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, specializing in the history and philosophy of science. He has been one of the editors of Back to Godhead since 1977.

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Mahabharata—The History of Greater India

Karna Wants War

Duryodhana and Karna advise
Dhrtarastra how to get rid of the Pandavas.

Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami

The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the Pandavas to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. As the narration continues, the Pandavas, who had been living disguised as brahmanas, have just married Princess Draupadi, the daughter of King Drupada. Now the world knows that the Pandavas, supposedly dead, are alive.

SPIES AND AGENTS brought news to the world leaders that the Pandavas were not dead and had won splendid Draupadi as their wife. It was the great soul Arjuna, a most glorious fighter with mighty bow and arrows, who had strung the impossible bow and pierced the difficult target. And the mighty one who had lifted up Salya, king of Madra, and spun him around, and who had terrified the men in the arena by angrily brandishing a tree—there was no more confusion whatsoever about the identity of that great soul, for he was Bhimasena, of the awesome touch, who brings down whole divisions and armies of enemies. Hearing that the sons of King Pandu had done all this disguised as brahmanas, the rulers of mankind were wonderstruck.

After Draupadi's svayamvara, the kings in attendence, having formerly heard that Kunti and her sons had burned to death in a house of lac, now felt as if the Pandavas had risen from the dead. Cursing and reviling Bhisma and Dhrtarastra, the Kuru king, for the most cruel act of trying to kill the Pandavas (which was in fact perpetrated by Purocana under the direction of Duryodhana), the kings had dispersed at the conclusion of the svayamvara festival knowing that it was the Pandavas in disguise whom Draupadi had chosen. King Duryodhana, having seen Draupadi select as her husband Arjuna, who was known for his pure white stallions, was discouraged, and he returned home with his brothers and Karna, Krpa, Sakuni, and Asvatthama.

Duryodhana's brother Duhsasana was ashamed at this setback for the Kurus, the Pandavas' enemies, and in a whisper he said to Duryodhana, "If Arjuna had not disguised himself as a brahmana, he never would have won Draupadi. Actually, king, no one knew he was Dhananjaya Arjuna. But I consider the will of God supreme and the efforts of men of no avail. Our manly strength is useless, dear brother, for the Pandavas have stolen the prize."

Thus conversing, and rebuking Purocana, the Kurus entered the city of Hastinapura in confused and dejected spirits. Seeing that the mighty sons of Prtha had escaped the raging fire and were now allied with Drupada, the Kuru princes were deeply afraid of retaliation, for they had failed in their sinister plot. They also worried over Dhrstadyumna, born to kill Drona, and Sikhandi, bent on slaying Bhisma, and the other sons of Drupada, for all these warriors were masters of war.

Vidura Informs Dhrtarastra

Vidura, the uncle of the Kurus and Pandavas, was pleased and amazed upon hearing that Draupadi had chosen the Pandavas and that the sons of Dhrtarastra had returned embarrassed, their pride broken. He said to his eldest brother, Dhrtarastra, "By God's grace the Kuru dynasty is expanding."

Hearing the news from Vidura, Dhrtarastra, the son of Vicitravirya, was filled with joy and cried out, "Thank heaven! Thank heaven!" for the blind king, who was said to have an eye of wisdom, mistakenly assumed that young Draupadi had chosen his eldest son, Duryodhana. Dhrtarastra then ordered a wealth of ornaments to be given to Draupadi and sent word to his son Duryodhana, "Let my new daughter-in-law Draupadi be brought here at once!"

At this point, Vidura explained that Draupadi had actually chosen the Pandavas, and that those heroes had survived the fire and were healthy; moreover, now that Drupada had honored and welcomed the Pandavas into his family, they had acquired many powerful allies.

Dhrtarastra said, "As much as Pandu loved his sons, so do I love them and more. My pleasure has now increased, Vidura, and the Kurus have prospered more than I had imagined, for the heroic Pandavas are alive and healthy and have acquired important friends. Indeed, what king deprived of his opulence and seeking prosperity would not be eager to approach Drupada and his associates and secure their friendship?"

Vidura replied, "O king, may you always see things this way, for a hundred autumns."

Duryodhana's Schemes

Thereupon Duryodhana and Karna came to see Dhrtarastra, O king, and they said to him, "We are unable to speak to you in the presence of Vidura. We will speak to you in private."

[When Vidura had gone,] Duryodhana said, "What does he want with you? Father, do you think the success of your rivals is your own? You praise the Pandavas highly in the presence of Vidura, O noble man. But we must constantly cut down their strength. The time has come for all of us to seriously plan what we wish to do, so that they do not swallow us whole, along with our friends, armies, and children."

Dhrtarastra said, "I, too, am worried about this, just as all of you are, but I do not wish to reveal my real feelings to Vidura, and so especially in his company I praise the good qualities of the Pandavas. Duryodhana, tell me where you think we stand now. And Karna, you also tell me how you see the present situation."

Duryodhana said, "At this point we must employ expert and trustworthy brahmanas to divide the sons of Kunti from the sons of Madri. Or perhaps we can use huge amounts of wealth to entice King Drupada, his sons, and all his ministers, and then we can tell them, 'You must all renounce King Yudhisthira.' Or the brahmanas might convince the Pandavas to make their permanent home right there in the kingdom of Drupada. The brahmanas would have to explain to each of the Pandavas the disadvantages of their living here, so that the Pandavas themselves will make up their minds to separate from us.

"Or perhaps some very clever men expert in such affairs should divide the Pandavas by manipulating their affections or causing Draupadi to stand up against them. That should be an easy job, since she has to deal with so many of them. Or the men might sew seeds of conflict in the Pandavas against Draupadi and then cut her off from them.

"Another point, O king, is that some expert men must secretly arrange Bhimasena's death, for he is definitely the strongest of them all. When he is cut down, so will be their daring, vigor, and stamina. They will no more struggle for their kingdom, since he is their shelter and foundation. Arjuna is invincible in battle as long as Bhima guards him from behind, but without him Arjuna is not even one fourth the man in battle that Karna is. Knowing their great weakness without Bhima and recognizing our strength, they will perish with little resistence in his absence.

"When the Pandavas come here, if they agree to be ruled by our command then we shall move forward and crush them with full faith in our plan. Or we can always arrange beautiful, maddening women to seduce them, one by one, and Draupadi will surely give up her affection for them.

"Or let us send Karna to bring them here, and we shall arrange for professional criminals we can trust to kill them on the way.

"Whichever of these methods you consider to be free of flaws, set it into motion at once, before time runs out. Only so long as Drupada, that bull of a king, has not developed full trust in the Pandavas are these plans possible to carry out. Once Drupada's alliance with them is firmly in place, these plans will be impossible to execute. That is my opinion, father, which proceeds from the conviction that we are to curb the Pandavas. What do you think, Karna? Is my opinion right or wrong?"

Karna's Opinion

Karna said, "Duryodhana, I feel that your thinking on this matter is not accurate. O Kuru prince, the Pandavas cannot be subdued by the means you propose. In the past you have attempted to subdue them through subtle plots, my hero, but you could not overcome them. They were living right here with you, O king, like children or little birds without wings, and it was impossible to stop them. Now they have grown their wings, are based in a foreign country, have risen up to strength and prosperity, and in all ways have matured. You cannot deal with the sons of Kunti by such means as you propose. This is my view, O unfailing one. They seem to embody the will of Providence, and it is impossible to entangle them in vice; moreover, they are on their guard now and are yearning to get back their ancestral kingdom.

"To create division among them is impossible; they all love a single wife and will not be separated from her. Nor can Draupadi be separated from them by the work of outsiders. Why, she chose them when they were in a miserable condition, and what to speak of now, when they have ended their troubles! Women desire to be maintained and protected by many men. Draupadi has attained such a status, and she will not be easily separated from her husbands.

"King Drupada is a religious man of noble character; he is not mad after wealth. I am certain he would not renounce the Pandavas even in return for gifts of kingdoms. His son is just as noble and is very attached to the Pandavas. Therefore I conclude that in no way can we handle the Pandavas through such means.

"O best of men, this is what we can actually do now: as long as the Pandavas have not yet spread their roots, O king, we must directly attack them. May you approve and be pleased with a plan that depends on valor [and not trickery]. As long as our side is strong and the side of King Drupada much smaller, we should seize the moment to attack them. There is nothing more for you to analyze. Now, while they still lack many friends or an abundance of vehicles and mounts, O godly son of Gandhari, march on them at once! It is now, while the king of Pancala and his powerful sons cannot even imagine such an enterprise, that you must make war!

"And especially now that Sri Krsna has not yet come leading the war machine of the Yadu dynasty to rescue the kingdom of the Pandavas, you must at once go to war! For the Pandavas' sake, O king, Krsna is prepared to sacrifice vast amounts of wealth, varieties of enjoyment, and His entire kingdom.

"By force the great soul Bharata gained the earth, and by force Indra conquered the three worlds. People praise a warrior's prowess, my king, for to use power courageously is the duty of heroes.

"We ourselves, with our fourfold armies, O king, shall harass Drupada and then quickly capture the Pandavas and bring them here. No sweet words, no gifts, and no ploys to divide and conquer will ever be successful in controlling the Pandavas. Therefore we must conquer them by courage and strength. When you have conquered them with your courage, you will enjoy every land on the face of the earth. I do not see any other means to carry out this task, O lord of the people."

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami led the team of devotee-scholars who completed the translation and commentary of the Srimad-Bhagavatam begun by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is now doing graduate work in Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University.

Dramatic readings by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami of his Mahabharata translations may be purchased from: HDG Tape Ministry, P. O. Box 1156, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. Phone: (904) 418-4644.

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Every Town & Village

The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)

North America

An ISKCON leader presented two papers at the annual convention of the American Academy of Religion, the largest body of religion professors in America. In his first paper, presented before the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies (SHCS), Sripada Tamal Krsna Goswami discussed the role of Western converts in Hindu-Christian studies and their influence on the Hindu community in America. After the presentation Tamal Krsna Goswami was elected to the board of directors of the SHCS.

The second paper, presented during a session on new religious movements, discussed heresies within the Krsna consciousness movement.

Nearly ten thousands scholars attended the conference, held last November in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In Detroit, the procession of Lord Jagannatha's giant hand-pulled car brought joy to the residents of Motor City.

The Bhaktivedanta Cultural Center opened in October in Phoenix, Arizona. The 7,500-square-foot building houses asramas, guest rooms, a library, a gift shop, a large kitchen, a 3,000-square-foot temple, and space for a planned Govinda's Restaurant. Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna from Jaipur will preside.

The ISKCON center in Berkeley, California, set up a library of Srila Prabhupada's books and other Vedic literature in honor of the Centennial year.


ISKCON leaders met with Indian Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda at his mansion in October to request the printing of a Srila Prabhupada commemorative stamp.

The governor and the chief minister of the state of Haryana joined ISKCON leaders for a conference on "Prohibition and the Bhagavad-gita." The conference was co-sponsored by ISKCON and the Haryana government. The government has recently instituted statewide prohibition.

The conference was held at Kurukshetra University in New Delhi. Kurukshetra is where the Gita was spoken by Lord Krsna five thousand years ago. The speakers at the conference: Governor Mahavir Prasad, Chief Minister Bansi Lal, and ISKCON leaders Gopala Krsna Goswami, Radha-Govinda Swami, and Sridhara Swami.

ISKCON has organized a National Youth Program for college students in 250 cities, to encourage them to explore their cultural and spiritual heritage. The program includes lectures, seminars, essay writing, debate contests, and panel discussions on India's rich spiritual history.

At least 150,000 people in Mumbai received Krsna-prasadam on ISKCON's Feed the Word Day. Five hundred volunteers cooked, and four hundred more distributed the prasadam, delivered in forty trucks.

Books newly published in the Marathi language: The Laws of Nature, Introduction to Bhagavad-gita, Message of Godhead, and the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam.

More than a hundred devotees toured Vrndavana, Krsna's holy land, during ISKCON's tenth annual Vraja Mandala Parikrama, held during the month of Kartika (October-November).

A politician in Rajasthan has suggested that the devotees of ISKCON must be working for the American CIA. Back to Godhead suspects that the politician must be working for Pakistan.

Devotees from around the world will gather in Mayapur, West Bengal, in March for ISKCON's annual Gaura Purnima celebrations, honoring the appearance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (See page 61 for the festival schedule.)

ISKCON's Rathayatra in Mumbai will be held March 6.


Devotees and neighbors planted three thousand trees and four thousand shrubs on the grounds surrounding the new access road to Bhaktivedanta Manor. The Manor's long battle for public worship ended last year when the British government granted ISKCON permission to build a road bypassing Letchmore Heath, the local village. The planting, which took place on weekends in November and December, fulfilled a pledge to the British government to preserve the integrity of the local green belt.

Central America

San Jose, Costa Rica, has a new temple, in a former hotel next to ISKCON's downtown restaurant and boutique.


Brisbane's springtime city parade was the venue for ISKCON's first Rathayatra festival in that city, held last September. Because the parade took place at night, devotees lit the chariot's canopy from the inside and decorated the chariot with hundreds of lights. Two hundred devotees danced and chanted in front of the chariot and the 200,000 spectators.


November 23 marked Feed the World Day, when ISKCON volunteers in sixty countries distributed Krsna-prasadam to over three million people worldwide.

ISKCON's Governing Body Commission (GBC) has started its own web site to exchange information with devotees and nondevotees alike. The address:

Padayatra News

Padayatra Caribbean

Devotees from Padayatra America flew to the Caribbean last October to hold Padayatras in Jamaica, Anguilla, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. In Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, twenty-five years ago devotees had been thrown out of the university by Communist students and then deported by the government. This time, residents and students gave the devotees an enthusiastic welcome.

Padayatra West Africa

Alhaji Leteef K. Jakande, former president of Lagos State, cut the ceremonial ribbon, and twenty devotees left on a three-month journey of 3,700-miles (6,000 kilometers) through twelve West African countries.

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Sri Krsna Vasanta Rasa
Lord Krsna's Springtime Rasa Dance: April 22

Lord Krsna's dancing with his gopi (cowherd) girlfriends is probably the most misunderstood of all His transcendental pastimes. In Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Chapter 29) His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada guides us in understanding this spotless activity of the Lord:

"The dancing of young boys and girls within the material world is in the kingdom of mahamaya, or the external energy. The rasa dance of Krsna with the gopis is on the platform of yogamaya. The difference between the platforms of yogamaya and mahamaya is compared in the Caitanya-caritamrta to the difference between gold and iron. From the viewpoint of metallurgy, gold and iron are both metals, but the quality is completely different. Similarly, although the rasa dance and Lord Krsna's association with the gopis appear like the ordinary mixing of young boys and girls, the quality is completely different. The difference is appreciated by great Vaisnavas because they can understand the difference between love of Krsna and lust.

"On the mahamaya platform, dances take place on the basis of sense gratification. But when Krsna called the gopis by sounding His flute, the gopis very hurriedly rushed towards the spot of the rasa dance with the transcendental desire to satisfy Krsna. The author of Caitanya-caritamrta, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, has explained that lust means sense gratification, and love also means sense gratification—but for Krsna. In other words, when activities are enacted on the platform of personal sense gratification, they are called material activities, but when they are enacted for the satisfaction of Krsna, they are spiritual activities. On any platform of activities, the principle of sense gratification is there. But on the spiritual platform, sense gratification is for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, whereas on the material platform it is for the performer.

"For example, on the material platform, when a servant serves a master, he is not trying to satisfy the senses of the master, but rather his own senses. The servant would not serve the master if the payment stopped. That means that the servant engages himself in the service of the master just to satisfy his senses. On the spiritual platform the servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead serves Krsna without payment, and he continues his service in all conditions. That is the difference between Krsna consciousness and material consciousness."

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Vedic Thoughts

Whatever a person may be in the estimation of the social order of things, if a person tries to reciprocate a feeling of love towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is satisfied with the blessings of the Lord, he will at once feel the highest peace of mind for which he is hankering life after life.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.6.6, purport

Anyone trying to enumerate or describe fully the unlimited qualities of the unlimited Supreme Lord has the intelligence of a foolish child. Even if a great genius could somehow or other, after a time-consuming effort, count all the particles of dust on the surface of the earth, such a genius could never count the attractive qualities of the Personality of Godhead, who is the reservoir of all potencies.

Sri Drumila
Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.6.6

What assurance of real happiness is there in all of one's wealth, youthfulness, sons, and family members? This life is tottering like a drop of water on a lotus petal; therefore you should always serve and worship the lotus feet of Lord Krsna.

Govinda Dasa Kaviraja
Bhajahu Re Mana Sri Nanda-nandana

The manifestation of unadulterated devotional service is exhibited when one's mind is at once attracted to hearing the transcendental name and qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is residing in everyone's heart. Just as the water of the Ganges flows naturally down towards the ocean, such devotional ecstasy, uninterrupted by any material condition, flows towards the Supreme Lord.

Lord Kapila
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.29.11-12

To say nothing of the spiritual advancement of persons who see the Supreme Person face to face, even a person born in a family of dog-eaters immediately becomes eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices if he once utters the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or chants about Him, hears about His pastimes, offers Him obeisances, or even remembers Him.

Srimati Devahuti
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.33.6

The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura
Sri Sri Gurv-astaka

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